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Computerized Investing > November/December 2005

PC Buyer's Guide for the Individual Investor

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

While industry experts continue to worry that the cycle of businesses and individuals purchasing new computer systems and replacing obsolete systems is coming to end, reality indicates otherwise. The year 2005 looks to be another record year for the PC industry. Based on third-quarter PC sales, information technology industry research firms IDC and Gartner, Inc. estimate worldwide PC sales will grow by over 17% for 2005. This should place 2005 unit sales above 210 million. The trend away from commodity desktop computers and toward mobile, notebook computers has helped to fuel this continued strength. High-speed wired and wireless (Wi-Fi, or wireless fidelity) Internet connections have become more mainstream, no longer a luxury.

Consumers continue to enjoy cutthroat pricing among computer manufacturers. This has led to revenue growth in the industry lagging unit sales—manufacturers are selling more systems but at lower prices. In such an environment, only computer manufacturers that can contain costs can succeed. Last year, Gartner predicted three of the top 10 computer manufacturers will be forced out of the global marketplace by the end of 2007.

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