Shipments of portable computers continue to grow faster than those of desktops, according to industry analysts of the computer and business equipment market.
And, for the first time, a year-to-year decrease in domestic desktop shipments is forecast.
``The trend toward miniaturization in general affects the total volume of plastic,'' said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc. in Wayland, Mass. More small corporate desktops portend less plastic per unit.
Large, wide-aspect, 16-9 ratio notebook computers are replacing desktops because the performance penalty [for portability] is not as great as in the past and the wider screen allows for ``a decent-sized keyboard,'' Kay said.
More thermally efficient designs also help the portability trend and reduce the gap with desktops, Kay said. In coming years, portables and desktops ``will have more in common than ever before,'' she said.
Vendors in both portable and desktop sectors promote units with premium features and higher prices in targeted ``market niches where they can squeeze additional margin,'' according to Richard Shim, senior research analyst for personal computing with International Data Corp. in San Mateo, Calif.
``Gaming has been rife with opportunity for the bigger players,'' Shim said. ``For desktops, look for more multimedia capabilities and efforts to make use of digital media for home buyers easier. For notebooks, look for wider screens in more models and a wider use of wireless capabilities.''
In similar forecasts, the industry analysts project 2006 worldwide shipments of 78.5 million notebooks, compared with last year's 64.8 million. Domestic shipments will be about 27.1 million vs. 21.5 million last year.
For desktops, Endpoint and IDC foresee 2006 global shipment of 143.9 million units, compared with last year's 136.4 million. In a slight downturn, domestic shipments will be about 39.4 million vs. 40 million last year.
For color laser printers, Peter Grant of Gartner Inc.'s Dataquest projects domestic 2006 shipments of more than 1 million units vs. 880,000 last year.
Color sales keep growing solidly and indicate buyers prefer to use ``color for color and mono for mono,'' said Grant, the firm's research vice president for printer markets and management in San Jose, Calif.
Grant projected domestic 2006 shipments of more than 3.6 million monochrome laser printers, compared with last year's 3.4 million units.
``People are returning to monochrome from inkjet'' printers for a one-cartridge print solution, Grant said.
Purveyors of plastic toner cartridges ``can continue to raise prices'' so that the ``cost per page is creeping up,'' Grant said.
``People do not care because monochrome is so much cheaper than ink,'' he said.
International Data Corp. projects 2004-09 compound annual domestic growth rates of 15.5 percent for color page printers and, reflecting gradual market maturation, 1.1 percent for multifunctional copy-print-scan-fax peripherals.
Gartner Dataquest foresees 2006 domestic shipments of nearly 1.8 million monochrome copiers vs. 1.75 million last year, said Lynn Ritte, the firm's principal analyst for digital documents.
The popularity of letter- or legal-size copiers from Hewlett-Packard, Canon and Sharp is driving shipments, Ritter said.
Also, vendors are promoting color-enabled monochrome devices that encourage consumers to buy one copier instead of two.