Key 2003 trends in the computer market include higher market penetration for portables and wider use of wireless Web connections, industry experts say.
International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass., projects worldwide shipments of 107.8 million desktop computers in 2003, vs. 101.5 million in 2002. Domestic shipments will account for 36.1 million desktops in 2003, up from 34.8 million last year.
In the market for notebook computers, IDC projects worldwide 2003 shipments of 35.4 million units compared with last year's 30.8 million. Domestic shipments will be about 12.9 million in 2003, vs. 11 million last year.
Some computer makers such as Toshiba Corp., IBM Corp. and NEC Corp. are de-emphasizing desktops in their product lines, said Roger Kay, who directs IDC research on desktop and notebook computers. ``Notebooks are the business to be in,'' he said.
Differences in price and performance between desktop and portable units have declined so that now it is ``not much more expensive to get a smaller, lighter box you can carry around'' and get robust capability, Kay said. At the same time, some users may go to a personal-digital-assistant rather than a notebook, he said.
Wireless Web connections for computers are evolving. Last year was a get-acquainted time, Kay said, and 2003 will be a period for more ``awareness and interest on the part of individual and corporate buyers.''
In November, Kay used five electronic devices to cope with the Comdex show in Las Vegas: a notebook computer for in-hotel work, a PDA to track appointments, a Jornada hand-held note-taking device, a cellular telephone and an MP3 music player.
``I don't want to kill a cell phone battery by having a screen big enough to do PDA work,'' Kay said. ``I want to be able to pour numbers back and forth.''
While anticipating convergence of functions, ``different people will have different devices for what they want to do,'' Kay said.
Plastics processors need to stay fluid and retain the ability to move production between forms, Kay said.
Frost & Sullivan Inc. analysts agree that the portable niche is growing faster than the desktop segment, and that portables may account for more than 28 percent of the total domestic computer market by 2006.
The projection Frost & Sullivan provides for 2003 domestic desktop computer consumption is 49.8 million units, vs. 46.9 million last year.
Frost & Sullivan forecasts that growth in flat-panel, liquid-crystal-display computer monitors will exceed that for cathode-ray-tube monitors - but the replacement process will take time, said Anurag Roy, an analyst in San Antonio.
For the domestic market, Roy projects 2003 sales of 29.2 million computer monitors vs. 27.1 million last year.
Meantime, digital convergence is blurring traditional markets for computer printers and document copiers.
Sales of all-in-one devices to print, scan, copy and fax grew more than 35 percent last year vs. 2001, said Peter Grant, principal analyst for related office equipment with Gartner Inc.'s Data-quest unit in San Jose, Calif. And the growth should continue.
Hewlett-Packard Co., Lexmark International Inc., Canon Inc. and others offer the multifunction products. All-in-ones are ``taking volume from the single-junction inkjet'' printers, Grant said.
Digital copier technology is driving analog copiers from the market. For domestic copiers, Gartner Dataquest reported growth to 1.67 million units in 2002, from about 1.65 million in 2001.
Digital technology, particularly printing ability, was the principal reason for the flat copier market, said Gartner Dataquest analyst Lynn Ritter. Digital units accounted for 67 percent of the 2001 copier market and should hit 100 percent by 2004, she said.
Facsimile machines ``have maxed out,'' she said.
Color printing also is growing. Color models will account for about 10 percent of laser printer shipments in 2003, vs. 7 percent last year, Grant said. By 2006, 25-30 percent of shipments of laser printers could have color capability, Grant said.