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The PC industry will post steady growth through 2016 when more than 528 million units will ship.Worldwide shipments of PCs will grow 5 percent in 2012 to 382.6 million units, despite growing competition from alternative devices, global political unrest, and an uncertain economic outlook, according to researcher IDC.
"The first quarter PC volume results showed an uptick over our forecast," said Jay Chou, research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker service. However, much of the volume increase “was due to a faster-than-expected recovery of hard disk drive (HDD) supply related to flooding in Thailand.”
PCs continue to face pressure from a weak economic environment. The threat of a relapse into recession could adversely affect public spending and business confidence resulting in fewer PC purchases, especially among small and medium-sized firms.
The growth of media tablets is also impacting PC sales. However, consumer purchases of PCs could be revived this year with the release of new ultrabook and ultrathin computers, noted Chou. Release of Windows 8 could help to reinvigorate a consumer market later in the year.
Windows 8 will bring “new classes of products that could lead to a stronger refresh cycle as the year ends," said David Daoud, research director, personal computing at IDC.
However, questions about the release date, functions, and pricing for Windows 8 will limit the overall impact of the new operating system PC market in 2012, according to IDC.
PC purchases in mature markets such as the United States and Europe are expected to rise later 2012. However, the financial troubles in Europe are increasingly being felt in the emerging markets and the outlook for emerging markets has become more mixed with areas such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America experiencing slower PC demand growth, IDC reported.
In the United States, the PC market will be sluggish over the next two quarters. Growth should resume later in the year and will continue through 2016 when 528.5 million PCs will ship, according to IDC.