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Preliminary data from IT research firm Techaisle shows 120.1 million PCs
were shipped in 2010 to small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) (businesses with
less than 1,000 employees)—a year-on-year growth rate of 10.4 percent.

The bulk of growth rate came from emerging market countries, which reported a
16.5 percent increase. Mature markets, like Germany
and the United States,
grew by a combined total of 4.4 percent. For the first time, emerging market
SMB PC unit shipments exceeded that of mature markets, according to Techaisle
data. The report also noted by 2014, it is forecast that SMB PC shipments in
emerging market countries will cross 100 million units.

Global SMB overall PC penetration at the end of 2010 was 59 percent, with 37
percent in the emerging markets—a penetration rate that is forecast to reach 50
percent by 2014. PC penetration is calculated as the number of SMBs actively
using at least one PC divided by the total number of SMBs. 

By format type, desktop PCs are still SMBs’ choice of device type with unit
sales equaling 61.3 million (51 percent of world total). Notebook PC sales
totaled 54.3 million (45 percent), and netbooks totaled 4.5 million in sales.
However, notebooks are forecast to exceed desktop shipments in 2011. The
company noted the data excludes tablet PCs such as the Apple iPad.

The report also noted the growth rate in mature markets was hindered by
uncertain business environments and lack of hiring. The immediate outlook,
however, seems promising, with Techaisle’s recent surveys revealing that small
businesses view IT as a key contributor for business growth and empowerment and
they have an increasing desire to refresh IT, migrate to Windows 7 and build
capabilities for cloud computing. Emerging market countries’ growth came from
increasing PC to employee ratio as well as improved PC penetration among SMBs,
according to the company’s research.

For small businesses in mature markets, purchase channels are also showing a
shift from VAR/reseller to retail/online due
to a combination of buyers’ IT maturity and smaller replacement batches—with
around 30 percent of U.S. small business (SB) purchasing PCs sourced from
retail stores. However, in emerging markets (e.g., Brazil),
nearly half of SB PC purchases were still through the traditional VAR/reseller
channel, the report noted.