PC sales tanking at unprecedented pace

Chicago (IL) – Market research firm Gartner added to the wave of bad economic news today, forecasting that PC unit sales will see the sharpest decline in history in 2009. Gartner believes that the industry will sell 257 million PCs this year, down 11.9% from 2008.

If you have digested that the Dow dropped below 6800 points today, then this one won’t be a big deal. 🙂 Gartner believes that PC shipments will continue to weaken during a troubled global economy, dropping faster than at any other time previous. The industry’s worst decline so far was 3.2% in 2001, the year the dot-com bubble burst. And this year’s decline will be more than three times as strong, hitting 11.9% if Gartner is correct.

“The PC industry is facing extraordinary conditions as the global economy continues to weaken, users stretch PC lifetimes and PC suppliers grow increasingly cautious,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner.

The good news here is that mobile computers and especially netbooks are still seeing solid growth. Worldwide mobile PC shipments are expected to reach 155.6 million units, a 9% increase from 2008. Netbook shipments are estimated to almost double, from 11.7 million units in 2008 to 21 million units in 2009. Of course, netbooks represent only 8% of PC shipments; but their volume is big enough to translate into just modest unit shipment of regular notebooks – which Gartner expects to be 2.7% in 2009.

That leaves us with desktop computers, which are forecasted to have catastrophic year. Shipments are predicted to be 101.4 million units, down 31.9% from 2009.

Both emerging and mature markets are forecast “to suffer unprecedented market slowdowns.” Gartner said that “up to this point, emerging markets collectively recorded their lowest growth in 2002, 11.1%, while mature markets recorded their lowest growth in 2001, -7.9%. Both emerging and mature markets will handily surpass these previous lows in 2009, with emerging markets expected to post a decline of 10.4% and mature markets a decline of 13%.”