Growth in the PC market seems set to slow down as the consumer market cools off, said analyst firm IDC yesterday.

IDC now expects worldwide PC shipments to grow 9.7 per cent in 2005, down from IDC's last prediction of 10.1 per cent growth published last November. If that rate holds, PC vendors will ship 195.4 million units in 2005, valued at $209 billion.

The weaker forecast for 2005 growth comes as consumers and businesses deal with factors such as the mediocre performance of the US stock market, high energy prices and rising interest rates, said Roger Kay, vice president for client computing at IDC.

Growth should decline further in 2006, to around 8.6 per cent worldwide, IDC said. Shipment growth is expected to remain above 8 per cent for the rest of the decade, the company said.

Consumer growth has propelled the PC market around the world over the last few years, but consumer purchasing fell behind business activity in most regions during 2004, said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. Businesses in the US and Asia are now engaged in a long-awaited replacement cycle, discarding PCs they bought around 1999 and 2000 for new systems, and shipments to business customers will grow faster than consumer shipments in 2005 on a worldwide basis, IDC said.

However, in Western Europe consumers are still the primary driver for 2005 PC shipment growth, especially when looking at the notebook market, IDC said.

The worldwide trends toward stronger business activity and notebooks will continue to drive the PC market in 2005 and beyond, IDC said. Growth is slowing in mature economies but is set to expand in emerging economies in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, IDC said.