updated 10:55 am EST, Mon March 2, 2009
Gartner on PC Sales Plunge
Anaylst firm Gartner on Monday warned that it expects the steepest-ever decline in PC unit sales this year. The company sees numbers continuing to weaken to where the industry ships about 257 million PCs, or about 11.9 percent less than what was shipped in 2008. The figures will eclipse previous drops of 2001-2002 and are directly attributed to the world economic crash, which should slow demand. Researchers expect the hit to be particularly severe in "mature" markets like North America and Europe, where about 80 percent of PCs are replacements rather than first-time systems driven by need.
Of the anticipated mix, about 155.6 million of the PCs should be notebooks and should actually increase in numbers, climbing about 9 percent versus last year. Desktops, however, are expected to plummet rapidly and may drop 31.9 percent to just 101.4 million.
Gartner pins a significant part of the shift to netbooks; although they won't prevent an overall PC industy decline, they should account for about 8 percent of shipments during the year and are likely to become more affordable in the year as well. A typical model of one of the mini notebooks with a 8.9-inch display, a 160GB hard drive and Windows XP Home that sells for $450 today should cost about $400 by year's end. Many of these systems continue to sell to users in established areas that are buying a second or third PC, but Gartner also sees price drops contributing to more people in developing-world areas buying netbooks.
No prediction is offered for when the PC market will recover, though the trend would give the first clear majority of sales towards notebooks and likely encourage PC builders to tailor their lineups accordingly.