Global PC sales are picking up, but it's too early too talk of a sustained recovery, a leading analyst firm says.

Gartner has increased its third-quarter PC-sales forecast on the basis of stronger than expected second-quarter sales. However, the company warns that economic conditions will have to "pick up significantly" for PC vendors to enjoy a sustainable recovery.

Gartner predicted in June that 2003 worldwide PC shipments would grow 7.2 per cent year-on-year, with 137.6 million units shipped. Now, it expects 2003 annual growth of 8.9 per cent, on shipments of 161.3 million units. Third-quarter shipments are forecast at 39.8 million units, a 9.6 per cent increase on 2002's third quarter.

Second-quarter shipments exceeded Gartner's forecast, prompting it to raise its third-quarter estimates, the firm said. It attributed the strong second-quarter sales primarily to home, government and education buyers.

A lasting turnaround in PC sales, though, depends on corporate buyers, but businesses are extending their PC-replacement cycles, says Gartner.