SAN FRANCISCOEnd-user electronics markets are improving, but a sustainable recovery pattern will not emerge until next year, according to a forecast by market research firm Gartner Inc.
Sales of semiconductors ticketed for electronic equipmentincluding PCs, cellphones, consumer electronics devices and other productsare not expected to return to 2007 peak levels until 2012, Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) said.
"Almost all sectors of the electronic equipment market have now hit bottom and await signs of 'first growth' in comparison with the same quarter last year," said Klaus Rinnen, managing vice president at Gartner's semiconductor manufacturing group, in a statement. "The first signs of growth will be led by seasonal buying patterns in the PC market during the third quarter of 2009, although other major sectors will not begin to show first growth, year-on-year, until 2010."
Despite the beginnings of recovery, Rinnen said the damage felt from the current downturn will be felt for some time. Gartner continues to expect that overall semiconductor industry revenue will not return to the level it attained in 2007 until 2012, he noted.
"Vendors must prepare for significant changes in consumer buying behavior, technology demand patterns and a changed supplier landscape," Rinnen said.
Gartner said its overall PC forecast has been revised upward, especially for the U.S. and China. But a sustainable PC recovery is pegged for the third quarter of 2010, due to depressed enterprise demand and expectations that IT spending will return until 2010, Gartner said.
The market for mobile phones, which bottomed out in the first quarter of 2009, is expected to be the first sector to show sustainable recovery, starting in the first quarter of 2010, Gartner said. Gartner said it now expects mobile phone unit production to decline only 8 percent in 2009, which is 4 percentage points less than the May 2009 forecast.
Gartner said it expects the wired communications market to bottom out earlier than it originally anticipated, thanks to China's infrastructure spending and an earlier-than-expected onset of recovery in the developed nations. But Gartner said growth in this market should be relatively weak until 2011.
In the consumer electronics market, Gartner said it has pushed out first growth indicators to the second quarter of 2010. From the second quarter of 2010 onward, Gartner predicts greater consumer electronics market stability but anticipates few signs of a return to prerecession growth rates occurring until the first quarter of 2011, the firm said.
Gartner said semiconductor vendors are likely to see improved demand for chips from Tier 1 and Tier 2 automakers, who will be reacting to increasing demand and new car purchase orders early in the first quarter of 2010. But more evidence of recovery in the economy in general is needed before any strong growth trends can emerge for the automotive sector, Gartner said.