Apple Online StoreWorldwide PC shipments are projected to total 366.1 million units in 2010, a 19.7 percent increase from 305.8 million units shipped in 2009, according to the latest preliminary forecast by Gartner, Inc. Worldwide PC spendingis forecast to reach $245 billion in 2010, up 12.2 percent from 2009.

This forecast is more optimistic than Gartner’s December 2009 forecast, which anticipated 13.3 percent growth in PC shipments in 2010 and 1.9 percent growth in spending.

Gartner anticipates all regional markets will return to growth and exhibit more normal seasonality in 2010. The market will remain robust with unit growth continuing to increase strongly over the next few years as home PC demand accelerates and professional replacements rise in the recovery from the global recession.

“The PC industry will be overwhelmingly driven by mobile PCs, thanks to strong home growth in both emerging and mature markets,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, in the press release. “Mini-notebooks are again forecast to boost mobile PC growth in 2010, but their contribution is expected to decline noticeably afterward, as they face growing competition from new ultra-low-voltage (ULV) ultraportables and next-generation tablets. Desk-based PC shipment growth will be minimal and limited to emerging markets.”

“We expect mobile PCs to drive 90 percent of PC growth over the next three years,” said Mr. Shiffler. “In 2009, mobile PCs accounted for 55 percent of all PC shipments; by 2012, we expect mobile PCs to account for nearly 70 percent of shipments.”

Apple’s announcement of its upcoming iPad has created much discussion in the marketplace regarding market opportunities for traditional tablet PCs and next-generation tablet devices, such as the iPad. Gartner’s initial thinking is that vendors could ship up to 10.5 million traditional tablets and next-generation tablet devices worldwide in 2010.

“User requirements are clearly segmenting, and the mini-notebook proved this point,” said Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst at Gartner, in the press release. “Vendors can no longer afford to just think in terms of traditional PC form factors or architectures. With the rise of Web-delivered applications, many users no longer need a traditional PC running a resident general-purpose operating system and fast x86 CPU to satisfy their computing needs. Apple’s iPad is just one of many new devices coming to market that will change the entire PC ecosystem and overlap it with the mobile phone industry. This will create significantly more opportunities for PC vendors as well as significantly more threats.”

“Opportunities and risks for the PC market certainly seem tilted toward the upside now, following many quarters in the balance,” said Mr. Atwal. “New challenges are arising that will extend the PC ecosystem, increasing choice and competition. Ultimately, it will be the consumer who decides just how far that ecosystem extends and at what rate the PC industry grows.”

Source: Gartner, Inc.

[Attribution: Gizmodo. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dow C.” for the heads up.]