Charles Smulders, vice president of Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group, says "Third quarter results were stronger than had been expected, led largely by the home and small business markets. But we remain cautious in our overall outlook." Gartner analysts highlighted four issues that may spoil future PC growth prospects:
- Demand remains lackluster for large-corporate sales, with the notable exception of Europe
- Despite showing strong growth in the third quarter of 2003, the U.S. home market could prove fragile in the coming quarters, especially because its recent growth may have been driven by temporary factors, such as recent tax rebates and lower tax withholdings.
- In the U.S. retail market, Gartner believes that inventory levels in October were noticeably higher this year than last year.
- In the strong third quarter of 2003, the Japanese home market appears to have been heavily influenced by early new model introductions in advance of Japan's new PC recycling law, which became effective 1 October.
"Our forecast models continue to show strong potential for growth in the number of buyers upgrading over the next year, but levels of actual activity will be highly dependent on worldwide economic circumstances," said George Shiffler, principal analyst for Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "While U.S. recovery prospects appeared to have improved significantly in recent weeks, the outlook for the rest of the world continues to remain uncertain, with many countries intently looking to the United States to pull them out of the doldrums."
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