IDC Expects a Makeover for Desktop PCs; The Form Factor is Evolving to Sexy, Small, and Stylish Designs

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — 12/06/1999 — Desktop PCs are getting a new look. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the traditional boxy design will soon be a thing of the past, and in its place will be smaller, chic, innovative form factors.

"We're at a real significant inflection point in the evolution of the desktop PC," said Roger Kay, manager for IDC's Personal Systems research program. "Recent new PC designs like Dell's WebPC and Compaq's iPaq are just the tip of the iceberg. A proliferation of new designs is upon us, and within five years, older desktop PCs — like the 'pizza box' design — will be all but gone. As the market matures and PCs become more of a commodity, vendors are searching for ways to differentiate their offerings, and they will increasingly do so by way of style rather than with technology."

According to IDC, the traditional desktop accounted for more than 42% of all desktop PCs shipped in the United States in 1998. By 2003, its share will not even reach 10%. On the other hand, all-in-one flat panels and "nanotowers" (a small form factor with a vertical orientation), which combined didn't account for a full point of market share in 1998, will, between them, garner more than 40% of all desktop shipments in 2003.

Designs in the commercial and consumer markets vary considerably. Towers dominate in the consumer market while traditional desktops are the form factor of choice in the commercial segment. Most of the design innovation will originate in the consumer segment, and while commercial desktops will also get a new look, it will still be somewhat traditional.

"Revolutionary PC design is not a leading factor in most corporate purchases. However, new form factor designs are being targeted at a number of wide-ranging vertical markets, and changes will occur," Kay said. "The benefits of and market forces driving the new designs are clear, the cost curves are visible, and the vendors have already begun converting their products."

In its new report, The Evolving Desktop Form Factor: A U.S. Forecast (IDC #B20900), IDC examines how the desktop PC form factor will evolve through 2003 in the U.S. consumer and commercial markets. The report discusses factors accelerating and inhibiting the revolution of the form factor and presents forecasts for the overall U.S. market as well as for the U.S. commercial and consumer markets segmented by seven form factors. The report also explores recent innovative desktop designs from Apple, Gateway, NEC, and Sony. For more information or to order a copy of the report, contact Sue Beauregard at 800-343-4952, ext. 4774 or at

About IDC

IDC delivers dependable, relevant, and high-impact data and insight on information technology to help organizations make sound business and technology decisions. IDC forecasts worldwide IT markets and technology trends and analyzes IT products and vendors, using a combination of rigorous primary research and in-depth competitive analysis. IDC is committed to providing global research with local content through more than 500 analysts in 42 countries worldwide. IDC's customers comprise the world's leading IT suppliers, IT organizations, and the financial community. Additional information can be found at

IDC is a division of International Data Group, the world's leading IT media, research, and exposition company.

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