So is the glass half-full or half-empty?
Don't look to analysts for the answer. Consider:
PC unit shipments grew at either a 10 percent rate during the third quarter (if you believe Gartner Group), or at 11.9 percent (if you believe IDC).
Merrill Lynch's Steve Milunovich is going with Gartner's numbers, noting they were better than historical industry performance--but fell short of predictions. He wrote this in a report to investors this morning:
We now expect worldwide PC units to increase by 12.0 percent this year versus our prior figure of 13.3 percent and maintain our 9 percent unit growth estimate for 2005. This could be the last year of double-digit growth as the replacement cycle moderates. Our forecast assumes faster growth in notebooks than desktops and in corporate than consumer.
For its part, Gartner Group is going with a single-digit spending increase for a large swath of IT in 2005. But it's not trying to hide the good news:
Worldwide spending on information technology will increase by 5 percent in 2005, according to Gartner, Inc. As companies respond to increasing competition from India, China, Brazil and other emerging economies and to rising energy costs, their pursuit of productivity gains through investments in new IT products and services will continue to be a strategic priority.
Got all that?
IT spending will grow, but less than expected.
Economic conditions are tough, but that could be good for the technology space.
Consumer spending is down, but corporate spending is OK.
All of this makes a recent remark from a solution provider pretty apropos:
"Economists do a fantastic job of making the weathermen look good."