Analyst firms IDC has raised its PC forecast for the remainder of 2003, citing increased sales of notebooks and some recovery within corporate purchasing departments.

The forecast had been for 6.3 per cent growth in shipments for 2003, but IDC bumped that up two points to a forecast of 8.4 per cent growth worldwide in contrast to 2002, said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing for IDC. IDC changes its forecast on a quarterly basis as PC companies report results, he said.

The renewed strength of the US and the recovery of Asia from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) scare earlier this year have lifted expectations for the overall PC market, Kay said. The SARS virus had a limited impact on PC purchases in Asia, which still remains the region with the strongest growth, he said.

As reported earlier this week, shipments of notebooks are surging, as both consumers and businesses look to replace their old desktops with notebooks that offer performance as well as mobility, Kay said.

He observed: "Notebooks have always had advantages, but had two real disadvantages in performance and cost. But the performance gap between notebooks and desktops isn't as important as it used to be, since both have sufficient performance for most people. And the cost of notebooks has gone down dramatically," Kay said.

Desktop PC shipments also exceeded IDC's expectations in the second quarter, Kay said. However, the forecasts for desktop growth over the next few years remain fairly modest, he said.

IDC has lowered its forecast for PC growth twice this year based on fears of a decline in US public sector spending and prolonged weakness from the SARS outbreak.

Gartner raised its own worldwide PC shipment forecast in August to 8.9 per cent growth for 2003, up from expectations of 7.2 per cent.