Analysts more cautious on PC sales outlook

BOSTON Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:15pm EST

Customer Han Ziwen holds up his iPads at an Apple flagship store in Beijing, September 17, 2010. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

Customer Han Ziwen holds up his iPads at an Apple flagship store in Beijing, September 17, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Petar Kujundzic

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Market researchers are scaling back forecasts for global sales of personal computers, blaming an uncertain economic outlook in some markets and competition from tablet devices such as Apple Inc's iPad.

Research firm Gartner cut its 2010 forecast on Monday, just as the crucial holiday sales season was getting under way for PC makers like Hewlett-Packard Co, Acer, Dell Inc and Lenovo.

Gartner said it expected consumers and businesses to hold off on buying PCs in the near-term as they seek to save money.

It said it now expected PC shipments this year to rise 14.3 percent to 352 million units, and it pegged next year's growth rate at 15.9 percent. It had previously forecast growth of 17.9 percent in 2010 and 18.1 percent in 2011.

"These results reflect marked reductions in expected near-term unit growth based on expectations of weaker consumer demand, due in no small part to growing user interest in media tablets such as the iPad," Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said in a statement.

He said he expected media tablets to displace about 10 percent of PC units by 2014.

Market researcher IDC said it was seeing a similar trend, though a spokesman said sales were still poised to grow in the double digits. IDC will update its forecast in mid-December.

Data from Gartner and IDC are watched closely to gauge the strength of the PC market.

Separately, Gartner said worldwide shipments of servers, or computer systems used by large organizations, rose 14.2 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier. HP led with 32.1 percent of overall revenue in the server market, with IBM a close second with 30.2 percent, Gartner said.

Of the top five vendors, only Oracle suffered a decline in third-quarter revenue, Gartner said. Oracle, the world's third-largest software maker, has been trying to step up its competitive edge in hardware following its $7.5 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems earlier this year.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston, Ritsuko Ando in New York and Terhi Kinnunen in Helsinki; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Ted Kerr)

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