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February 18, 2010


Portable PCs Push Past Desktops

Gap between shipments of portable computers and desktop PCs to widen through 2013

For nearly two decades, personal computers have been a bellwether of industry health, accounting for about one-thirds of the world’s IC revenues since the early 1990s. Following several years of extraordinary growth, portable computer shipments exceeded unit volumes of desktop PC systems for the first time in 2009 (Figure 1). IC Insights shows portable computer shipments numbered 152 million in 2009 compared to 134 million desktop PCs. Through 2013, the gap is forecast to widen.

Shipments of portable PCs (counting all types of mobile platforms and price ranges) are now forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21% per year between 2003 and 2013 compared to a CAGR of just 2% for desktop PCs in the same 10-year period.

Arguably, the most-watched system trend in PCs today is the growing wave of low-cost portable computers, which continues to swell with a wider range of overlapping platforms being aimed at cost-conscious PC users. In 2008, sub-$500 portable systems became the rage when Intel accelerated its marketing and microprocessor campaigns behind inexpensive Internet-centric mini-notebook systems, which the company has successfully labeled as “netbooks.” But during 2009, new efforts were launched by IC suppliers (including Intel) and computer makers to create a new class of low-cost portable PCs for consumers, often called “ultraportables,” which are built with low-voltage chip designs and deliver the performance of full-featured laptop notebooks in systems costing $600-$900.

While the PC industry segment continues to undergo tremendous changes, it also faces new challenges as it enters a new decade. A growing range of tradeoffs in cost, performance, and system architectures are requiring PC makers and IC suppliers to support more hardware configurations, which are narrowly targeted at specific types of computer users in business and consumer markets. The growth in low-cost notebook computers for consumers and a shift of higher growth rates to poorer developing countries have made the PC segment even more competitive. Less-expensive portable PCs are now grabbing more sales in both established and emerging markets, and as a result, new cost pressures are being added to the supply chain for flat-panel color displays, wireless-networking solutions, small disk drives, and battery-friendly ICs.

Figure 1

Report Source

IC Market Drivers 2010 Edition and The McClean Report 2010 Edition

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