At 32.2 million units, worldwide PC sales in the third quarter of 2002 were 5.8 per cent higher than in the same quarter last year, according to Dataquest.

However, Dataquest states that this growth provides little cause for optimism, given that last year's third quarter was one of the worst on record for the PC industry.

According to Dataquest, continuing weak economic conditions are causing companies to delay replacing PCs, despite an increasing need to do so as pre-Year 2000 machines come to the end of their life cycle. The replacement cycle would have begun this quarter if the world economy were in a growth phase, Dataquest said.

The PC replacement cycle will likely not begin until the middle of 2003, assuming that the global economy picks up early next year.

The two weakest areas for PC sales were Japan and Latin America, which recorded sales declines. The other regions – the US, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia/Pacific – all showed single-digit growth.