PC Market to See Double Digit Growth In '07 and '08

According to the Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm's report, worldwide PC shipments are expected to hit 12.3 percent growth this year, and 11 percent in 2008, with growth coming from emerging markets like China, India, Latin America and Eastern Europe, as well as from growth in the mobile PC market.

"Those are the two main drivers. From a channel perspective, I don't know if the emerging market thing helps, but the mobile market, I think that's where the growth is and the growth will be in the U.S.," said George Shiffler, research director of Gartner's Client Platforms Markets Group.

The desktop PC market will most likely slow down in the second half of 2007, but mobile PCs will continue to drive the market. Mature markets should see growth of about 7 percent while emerging markets will top 18 percent, according to the report, although emerging markets represent only 42 percent of the overall PC business.

For Michael Schwab, vice president of purchasing at Harrisburg, Pa.-based D&H Distributing, the improved quality of notebook computers, bringing them on par with desktops when features and functionality are compared, has contributed to their gaining ground and overtaking desktop PCs.

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"Historically you had to give up features and functions when you move from a desktop to a mobile platform. You had screen size. You had processor speed. You had reduced graphics capabilities [in mobile PCs]. You had smaller hard drive capacities. But with the notebooks introduced in 2007 that are so feature rich from processor to memory to screen size, you don't really need to give up any of that functionality but you gain the ability to take your PC with you," said Schwab.

"Battery life of the products continues to improve as the component manufactures focus on power consumption and green capabilities of their products. I think that's been the major emphasis for the shift," he said.

This year D&H has about 160 notebook computers on its line card, up from about half that number last year, and mobile computer sales are double or triple the growth of desktop PC sales.

And customers aren't turning to mobile PCs because they're cheaper than their desktop cousins.

"Most of them are falling within the $1,000 to $1,500 price point, so they're not entry-level. We're not seeing a lot of opening price-point sales," said Schwab. "Then even some that scale up $3000 to $4000. We're definitely seeing a migration towards higher end configurations."