Networking Gear, Data Storage To Lead 2012 IT Sales

Worldwide IT spending is expected to grow 5 percent this year in constant currency, led by demand for IT products in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil, according to a report from market researcher IDC.

In the U.S., where IT spending grew 7 percent in 2011, IDC is forecasting IT spending growth of 5 percent driven by purchases of mobile devices, data storage systems, and network equipment.

Global spending for IT hardware and software are forecast to each grow 6 percent, in constant currency in 2012, while IT services will grow 4 percent this year, according to the report.

Enterprise spending for network equipment and data storage systems is expected to accelerate this year as businesses upgrade their networks to cope with exploding volumes of digital information. IDC also said the PC industry will return to growth this year after a slowdown in 2011 triggered by the shortage of disk drives.

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"There are risks to the outlook for 2012, mainly related to macroeconomic weakness in Europe, where IT spending is still weak," said Stephen Minton, vice president of IDC’s global technology and industry research organization, in a statement. "In a downside scenario, things could get much uglier in Europe and have a ripple effect through other regions. But leading indicators in the U.S. have improved in recent months, and emerging markets show no signs of a slowdown yet."

IDC is predicting that IT spending growth in Europe will be less than 1 percent this year and only 3 percent in 2013.

IT spending worldwide in 2011 grew 5 percent in constant currency, despite the uncertain global economy. In U.S. dollar terms the IT industry grew by nearly 9 percent.

The strongest growth in 2011 came from smartphone sales, up 46 percent year-over-year; software, up 6 percent; and disk storage systems, up 6 percent. Growth in 2011 came despite the impact of the hard disk drive shortage on PC sales.

Demand for IT products in emerging markets such as China and Brazil grew at double digits in 2011 while IT spending in Western Europe was weak because of the Eurozone's financial crisis, the report said. IT spending in the region was flat with lower spending on PCs, servers, storage, peripherals and network equipment compared to 2010.