Apple usually seems to buck most technology trends so perhaps it will with this one too. The
IDC research group has revised its U.S. PC shipment forecast for 2001, lowering it from the previously expected 2.2 percent growth to a 6.3 percent decline from 2000.
Yep, that’s right, a decline. And the news only gets worse. IDC has also taken down its worldwide forecast number for the full year, dropping it from 10.3 percent to only 5.8 percent over 2000. The worldwide performance was strongly affected by a “swooning” U.S. market, according to IDC. U.S. consumer sales for 2001 are now expected to fall by 17.3 percent, based on the presumption of a continuing poor economic environment.
“While we believe that the shape of the seasonal pattern will be normal, the yearend uplift will not be as buoyant as is typical at that time of year,” said Roger Kay, director of Client Computing at IDC. “Consumers have still not emerged from the shell they crawled into late last year.”
The final tally of consumer shipments in the United States in the first quarter of 2001 showed this market had declined by 26.4 percent from the first quarter last year. Up through the first quarter, commercial shipments in the United States held up reasonably well, achieving mid-single-digit growth rates. However, IDC believes commercial spending will be reduced more dramatically in the coming quarters, as declines in consumer spending spill over into the commercial segment. IDC projects shipments to the U.S. commercial segment will be flat in 2001, seeing growth of only 0.6 percent.
IDC now believes that, “while the United States is not clearly in recession (as some sectors, like services, remain healthy), several manufacturing industries, notably automobiles, steel, and computers, are experiencing clear retrenchment, and the related economic dislocation is likely to carry on into 2002.”
Personal computer shipment growth is also expected to decline somewhat a bit outside the U.S. IDC’s most recent numbers show growth outside the United States of 12.9 percent for 2001, down from a previous forecast of 15.1 percent, bringing worldwide growth for the year down to 5.8 percent.
According to IDC, factors contributing to slower growth outside the U.S. include falling consumer spending in Western Europe and declining growth in Asian markets following two years of very high growth. The markets in Canada and Latin America will slow somewhat in the wake of a weaker U.S. economy, and poor conditions in Turkey continue to pull down growth in the Middle East. Helping to offset these negative factors, the commercial market in Western Europe appears to have begun a slight recovery.
“With the United States clearly in the tank right now, the question is to what extent Europe and Asia will follow,” said Loren Loverde, director of IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. “The commercial segment in Western Europe is showing some promise, but the consumer segment looks more shaky. The heavily export-dependent countries in Asia could also be vulnerable to the U.S. slowdown, although low penetration rates in many countries leaves room for double-digit growth for the foreseeable future.”
U.S. and worldwide personal computer growth (compared to the preceding year) were 7.3 percent and 15.6 percent in 2000. The good news is that IDC predicts the percentage of growth for the U.S. and worldwide markets to be (respectively) 4.6 and 5.8 in 2002, 14.2 and 14.3 in 2003, 7.5 and 10.7 in 2004, and 4.5 and 9.3 in 2005.
Of course, Apple hasn’t been immune from the economic woes. Though it “beat the Street” by making a $43 million profit during its second financial quarter, revenues for the quarter were $1.43 billion, down 26 percent from the year ago quarter. While Apple’s results may fall in line with IDC’s predictions, it’s possible that the interest surrounding Mac OS X, the company’s renewed focus on the education market, and well-received new computers such as the Titanium PowerBook and iBook could offset some of the disturbing trends.