Notebook computers expected to overtake desktop units

January 14, 1991|By San Francisco Chronicle

Sales of desktop computers -- the mainstays of the personal-computer industry -- reached their peak last year and will decline for at least the next three years, according to a recently released market-research report.

In many cases desktop models will be replaced by cheaper and more versatile notebook-size computers, whose sales are booming, the report indicates.

But the increasing popularity of notebook computers -- smaller, more-advanced versions of laptop computers -- will be only one of several factors that hold down sales of desktop models over the next three years, according to a report from Forrester Research Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based market-research company. Economic recession and the saturation of the market among employers of white-collar workers will also slow desktop sales, Forrester reported.

Desktop-computer shipments are expected to fall to 4.9 million units by 1993, according to Forrester.

Until recently, a portable computer that could perform all the tasks of a desktop model has typically weighed between 10 pounds and 16 pounds. But recent advances in chip technology, disk drives and display screens have allowed computer makers to build machines that are the size of a loose-leaf notebook and weigh between five pounds and seven pounds.

Although few models are being shipped yet, more than 40 -- based on Intel Corp.'s popular 386SX microprocessor -- were introduced at the Comdex computer show in Las Vegas in November and are expected to flood the market this year.

At the same time, many users are upgrading from computers that use Intel's older 80286 microprocessor to 386SX-based systems. Lempesis predicted that many of those users will replace their desktop systems with notebook computers when they upgrade.

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