Portable computers and liquid-crystal-display monitors will penetrate the market further in 2004, but many new designs require less plastic than those they replace.
International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass., projects worldwide shipments of 114.7 million desktop computers in 2004 vs. 108.2 million in 2003. Domestic shipments will account for 38.1 million desktops in 2004, up from 37 million last year.
``Notebooks are roaring and taking over from desktops at a pretty fair clip,'' said Roger Kay, IDC vice president of client computing.
IDC projects 2004 worldwide shipments of 50.2 million notebooks, compared with last year's 39.7 million. Domestic shipments will be about 19.4 million vs. 14 million last year.
Also, IDC forecasts global growth of x86-chip-based network servers to 5.1 million in 2004, up from 4.6 million last year. The domestic figures are 2.1 million in 2004 vs. 1.9 million last year.
Kay noted that a notebook requires less plastic than a desktop and that smaller desktop towers, minitowers and game stations are reducing the need for resins.
Lower notebook prices will help original design manufacturers, particularly in Taiwan, continue the trend.
``ODMs are going to be able to produce a $500 notebook'' and market them through brand channels, Kay said. The current average domestic selling price is about $1,350.
Wireless Web capabilities - including faster data coverage and higher bandwidth - are driving the popularity of notebooks, Kay said. While more than half of all notebook computers are wireless-enabled at shipment, most buyers have yet to take advantage of the technology.
Security of wireless transmission is a big concern. Several vendors sell virtual private networks that can encrypt on the sending side and decrypt on the receiving side, but those protected modes are in their infancy.
Also on the material front, bigger LCD monitors with wide-aspect 16:9 screen ratios require more plastic, but another market development offsets that gain for resin suppliers.
Production lines making cathode-ray-tube monitors are ``nearly going out of business,'' resulting in a ``tremendous reduction'' of plastics needed for processing, Kay said.
Growth in the domestic color printer sector will outperform all information technology spending, said Peter Grant, principal analyst for related office equipment with Gartner Inc. in San Jose, Calif.
``Rising print speeds and falling prices stimulate demand across all business types.'' The projection: 502,000 units in 2004 vs. 403,000 last year.
Gartner forecasts domestic sales of 1.7 million monochromatic copiers in 2004, up about 28,000 from last year.
``It seems like the economy is picking up and the copier market along with it,'' said Lynn Ritter, a Gartner analyst.
Digital technology, with 88 percent of the market in 2003, is closing the door on analog copiers.
Facsimile machines continue to be replaced by e-mail, scan-to-file and all-in-one devices. Gartner forecasts domestic 2004 shipments of 5.1 million fax machines vs. 5.5 million last year.