updated 10:15 am EDT, Wed September 23, 2009
Gartner says PCs to only drop 2 percent
Computer sales will fare much better than feared but won't get any help from Windows 7, according to revamped estimates from Gartner. The analyst firm had recently predicted a 6 percent drop in shipments for all of 2009 but now believes the numbers will only drop 2 percent compared to 2008. Most of that, however, is attributed to an expected growth in holiday sales instead of any pent-up demand for Microsoft's new OS, which may actually worsen results as PC makers may put too much faith into the upgrade.
"Windows 7 may generate a modest bump in home demand and possibly some added demand among small businesses," research director George Shiffler said. "However, we aren't expecting most larger businesses, governments and educational institutions to express strong demand for the new operating system until late 2010. We're actually more concerned that vendors will overestimate the initial demand for Windows 7 and end up carrying excess inventories into 2010."
Part of the prediction comes increased estimates for netbooks, as Gartner now sees 25 million of the mini portables shipping this year where it had predicted 21 million as recently as May. Netbooks should start running Windows 7 from its October launch, but nearly all of these systems will be running the eight-years-old Windows XP until that point.
An outcome matching Gartner's prediction might be damaging for Microsoft, which has seen two quarters of revenue declines stemming directly from its Windows division. It's counting on improving its reputation with Windows 7 and of using the new OS to raise the money it collects from each netbook sale. The update is also hoped to reverse small losses in market share to Apple.