Computer makers experienced lower growth in 2006 and face another difficult year.
``We expect 2007 to be a trough,'' said Richard Shim, senior research analyst for personal computing with International Data Corp. in San Mateo, Calif.
He said designers are getting creative to help products stand out.
``We noticed a change in the colors used in cases - more silver PCs - and we expect this and other style trends to continue as PC manufacturers continue to try to mine the consumer market for more growth,'' Shim said.
IDC projects worldwide 2007 shipments of 100.6 million notebooks, compared with last year's 82.2 million. Domestic shipments will be about 32.3 million vs. 26.1 million last year.
For desktops, IDC foresees 2007 global shipment of 147.1 million units, compared with last year's 140.1 million. Continuing a trend, domestic shipments will decline to 35.5 million from 37.3 million last year.
``Increasing consumer adoption will be the main growth factor in the notebook market ... most noticeable in mature markets where we anticipate notebook shipments to exceed desktop shipments in late 2007 to early 2008,'' Shim said.
Another analyst agrees. ``Portables are screaming, and desktops are dangling in the wind,'' said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc. in Wayland, Mass.
``Everything is getting smaller,'' with color compounded plastics benefiting, Kay said.
Embedded colors wear better and look better, according to Kay.
``[Hewlett-Packard Co.] has been a big pioneer in that with finishes,'' Kay said.
Designers have improved thermal efficiency with multiple processing cores and removed graphic chips from the processor.
``A processor is good at serial processes, and a graphics chip is good at things in parallel,'' he said.
IDC forecasts rapid growth in shipments of stand-alone wide-screen liquid-crystal-display monitors for desktop computers as well as plug-in notebooks. LCD 19-inch wide-screen monitors failed to make a blip on IDC's 2005 third-quarter report, but shipments reached 3.8 million units during 2006 and are forecast at 11 million units in 2007.
``Larger displays are becoming more popular,'' with more plastics for housings, said Tom Mainelli, IDC senior research analyst for monitors in San Mateo. LCD monitors at 20 and 22 inches are ``attractive categories.''
IDC projects global 2007 shipment of 173.9 million monitors, including 150.2 million with LCDs and 23.7 with cathode-ray tube monitors. Last year's total was 161.1 million, including 126.3 million with LCDs and 34.8 million with CRTs.
IDC's U.S. 2007 forecast is 44.8 million units, with 43.7 million LCDs and 1.1 million CRTs, vs. last year's 43.2 million, or 39.7 million LCDs and 3.4 million CRTs.
For the quarter ended Oct. 31, Dell Inc. had 17.4 percent of the global monitor market with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. at 14.2 percent, Mainelli said. In the U.S., Dell had a 31.5 percent share to Hewlett-Packard's 11.2 percent.
In the mature computer printer market, consultant and analyst group Gartner Inc. forecasts global 2007 shipment of 43.8 million single-function color inkjets, 20.3 million monochrome lasers and 4.4 million color lasers, vs. last year's 40 million color inkjets, 19.3 million monolasers and 3.5 million color lasers.
Multifunction printers, known as MFPs, continue to capture business, said Peter Grant, managing vice president for printer markets in Gartner's San Jose, Calif., office. Print, fax, scan, copy, telephone and digital darkroom are among the functions.
The size of color lasers is shrinking with fewer parts, less weight and more structural plastics replacing heavier metal frames, Grant said. ``I see color lasers following the way of mono [lasers], with cleaner, smaller, simpler [designs],'' he said.
Inkjet printer prices have dropped. ``I consider them reinforced plastics and less sheet metal,'' Grant said.
Multifunction ``cannibalization'' impacts the inkjet and laser segments, said Riley McNulty, an IDC analyst for computer printers, fax machines and document copiers in Framingham, Mass. ``Laser MFPs are increasingly cannibalizing the stand-alone, single-function copier market as well.''
McNulty said home penetration for inkjet printers and multifunction units is extremely high. ``Digital photography, which uses a lot of ink, will continue to drive this segment,'' along with small- and home-office, work-at-home and telecommuter users.