More notebooks, smaller desktops, efficient thermal designs and less material use constitute market trends in personal computers, said Richard Shim, senior research manager with International Data Corp. in San Mateo, Calif.
In the plastics arena, manufacturers are moving toward personalization through greater use of color and innovative designs.
``Overall, the industry is moving toward more specialization,'' Shim said.
That may mean a sleek all-in-one system at a receptionist's desk, smaller notebooks with built-in cellular wide-area networking for mobile executives and large-screen notebooks for college students.
Thin, all-in-one, wide-screen high-performance computers work with a single power cord and avoid the need for a tower. Those products include Apple iMac's 20- and 24-inch models, Dell's XPS 20-inch and Gateway's One ZX 19-inch machines.
IDC is projecting global shipments of 138.6 million notebooks in 2008, compared with 2007's 110.3 million. Domestic notebook shipments - forecast by IDC in 2008 to top U.S. desktop shipments for the first time - will be about 37.7 million vs. 31.6 million last year. For desktops, IDC expects shipments of 156.3 million units, compared with last year's 152 million. Domestic shipments should decline again to 31.2 million from 35.4 million last year, IDC said.
Research and analysis firm Gartner Inc. confirms that domestic desktops declined and projects U.S. notebook shipments will grow to 36.9 million from 30.2 million in 2007. Notebooks benefit from the shrinking price differential with desktops, along with consumer interest in mobile Wi-Fi connections at Starbucks coffeehouses and elsewhere, said Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst with Gartner's client platform group in San Jose, Calif.
As of Sept. 30, Hewlett-Packard Co. had a global PC market share of 19 percent; Dell Inc., 14.7 percent; and Lenovo Group Ltd., 8 percent, according to IDC. In the U.S., Dell had a 27.8 percent share; HP, 21.2 percent; and Apple Inc., 6.9 percent, IDC said.
The popularity of 17-inch notebooks - replacing desktops - is a positive for the plastics industry, said analyst Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc. in Wayland, Mass. They are ``not for travelers or highly mobile executives,'' but rather for a student in a dormitory room or an apartment dweller wanting to stow the device, he said.
But plastics can lose out in the transition. Apple uses glass displays and aluminum cases for the iMac, and HP is housing its Blackbird 002 gaming personal computer in metal. Carbon-fiber composites get some use, though cases made of the materials can shatter, Kay said. A solution involves using reinforced polymer matrix layers, which work well with up to three embedded antennae.
Smaller more-expensive desktop designs may lead to ``an exponential decline in the use of plastics,'' Kay said. They are ``half the size of what they were 18 months ago,'' he said.
In the monitor market, IDC projects global 2008 shipments of 169.8 million liquid-crystal-display units vs. last year's 153.9 million. IDC's U.S. 2008 forecast is 38.3 million LCD units compared with 37.2 million last year.
``Most people in the U.S. have purchased their first LCD,'' and market saturation accounts for the slow growth, said Tom Mainelli, IDC senior research analyst in San Mateo.
Shipments of cathode ray tubes are declining rapidly, and IDC forecasts their demise by the end of 2011, Mainelli said. The global CRT projection is 9.3 million units in 2008 vs. 17.8 million last year. For the U.S., it's 329,000 in 2008 vs. 1 million last year.
In monitors, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., with 16.1 percent of the market share for the quarter ended Sept. 30, overtook Dell, with 14.6 percent, according to Mainelli. In the U.S., Dell had 32.6 percent and HP, 17.1 percent.
The success of multifunction-peripheral (MFP) all-in-one systems is cutting into sales of single-function printers, said Tosh Prabhakar, senior analyst for printing markets at Gartner UK Ltd. in Egham, England. Gartner forecasts global 2008 shipments of 142.4 million printers, copiers and MFPs vs. last year's 134 million units. The U.S. projection is 38.5 million units compared with 37.8 million in 2007.
Within the multifunction niche, an IDC researcher in Rochester, N.Y., forecasts 2008 global shipments of 81.4 million MFPs vs. last year's 74.5 million; in the U.S., 22 million units vs. 20.8 million.