IDC expects computer sales to reach record levels in the last weeks of 2003 and 2004, driven by strong consumer demand and aggressive pricing.

The trend toward notebooks in the year of the notebook also continues to drive growth, the analyst claims. IDC expects shipments to grow 15.3 per cent in the fourth quarter, making for annual growth of 11.4 per cent in the sector – well in excess of IDC's original expectations for 2003, which were 8.4 per cent growth worldwide.

Shipment growth is expected to continue at 11.4% in 2004, up from prior expectations of 10.2%, while shipment value is forecast to grow by 4% in 2004.

Loren Loverde, director of IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker said: "Consumers remain the primary market driver, and while business purchases have yet to accelerate substantially, overall growth shows the market in mid recovery. We expect greater business participation and continued double-digit growth during 2004."

"Within the great numbers we're seeing a dramatic shift from desktop to notebook buying," said Roger Kay, vice president of Client Computing at IDC. "We expect this trend to continue for several more years, although the rate of change may be near its maximum right now."

The regional outlook remains interesting, the report claims. Consumers will continue to drive the US market, though federal government spending improves as does business.

Western Europe's PC market is driven by consumer sales, though public sector sales have almost matched the value of the consumer market in recent months. Again, the region is driven by notebook sales