U.S. PC Sales Flat, Global Sales Rise

The market research firm indicated both trends are somewhat surprising -- the sharp increase globally and the U.S. figure. Total worldwide shipments grew 9.1% in the quarter, while U.S. sales showed no growth year over year.

IDC said it's reducing its U.S. growth forecast for PCs to low single digits during the next three quarters with growth expected to climb to 10% in the second half of 2007. Microsoft's new Vista operating system, as well as new sizes and shapes and the growing attractiveness of laptops, should drive a growth of nearly 8% from 2008 and 2010.

Vista is being rolled out in the United States to business customers; the main consumer version is scheduled to be released in March. IDC indicated the U.S. figures were likely affected by factors beyond the release of Microsoft's Vista operating system. "The slower growth reflects a mix of poor vendor performance in the third quarter and a slower pace of replacements," IDC said.

"Commercial segments will take a while to evaluate Vista," said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, in an interview. "We expect it will take a couple of years to transition. The big rollout should be in 2009."

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On the consumer side, however, Loverde expects a "quick switch" to Vista, particularly by users buying new PCs.

In worldwide markets, the PC shipment picture is considerably brighter, Loverde said. Third quarter 2006 shipments jumped 13.5%. "The market is moving toward portable PCs and emerging markets ever-faster than expected," he said.

Noting that laptop sales continue to be an aggressive driver of the worldwide PC market, the market research firm said desktop sales have been slowing.