Worldwide shipments of personal computers are likely to grow 12.4% in the fourth quarter, thanks to unexpectedly strong sales to small businesses and holiday shipments for consumers, technology market research firm Gartner Inc. said Friday.
The increase reflects purchases to refresh aging PCs but does not signal the start of a long-awaited upgrade cycle by large corporations, said George Shiffler, a principal analyst with Gartner's PC group in San Jose.
PC shipments will reach 47.2 million from October to December, up from 42 million in the same period last year, the Stamford, Conn.-based firm said in its quarterly forecast.
For the full year, it revised its estimate of global PC shipments to 164.3 million, up 10.9% from 2002. In September, Gartner projected total PC shipments of 160.4 million for the year.
Analysts and investors have been waiting for corporations to spend significant amounts to replace the wave of computers that were purchased before Jan. 1, 2000, to battle the so-called Y2K bug.
A major move by large corporations to upgrade their PCs should come next year "providing the economy cooperates," Shiffler said. "For a corporate recycle, we basically have to stay on a recovery track. Businesses need to be confident that things have turned around, and we're starting to see pretty good reasons for people to believe that."
PC sales increases could be hampered by slow corporate spending, high inventory levels or sluggish consumer sales in the U.S. and Japan, the report said.