Computer hardware markets grew at a fast pace in the first half of 2010, then shifted to a slower speed
entering the second half due to several factors, in our opinion. The outlook for growth in gross domestic
product (GDP) dampened, hardware inventory levels caught up with end-demand levels, and consumer
demand for low-priced netbook PCs ebbed, thereby reducing the outlook for personal computer (PC) unit
shipment growth. The computer industry’s progress toward what we believe will be a multi-year expansion
began after a deep downturn in late 2008 and early 2009, and a period of demand stabilization near cycletrough
levels in mid-2009. Demand drivers in the present expansion include improving price and
performance characteristics for PCs and servers, and the need to satisfy pent-up demand for updated
technology in homes and offices.
The computer hardware industry’s burst of growth in the first half of 2010 was most evident in the PC
industry. The growth rate for PC unit shipments in the first quarter of 2010 (versus Q1-2009) was very
brisk at 27.1%, and remained brisk in the second quarter at 22.9% (compared with Q2-2009), according to
data from market research firm IDC. In our view, any year with PC unit growth near 15% is a solid year
for the industry. The last year in which the industry achieved 15% PC unit shipment growth was 2007, the
last full year before the economic downturn set in. Therefore, a unit growth rate above 20% appears
unusually perky to us, and is probably unsustainable.