The PC industry should prepare itself for a very rough year, according to Gartner. The deepest unit decline in history is predicted, with shipments dropping 11.9% from last year to 257 million units. 

Unparalleled slowdowns are expected in both emerging and mature markets, with declines of 10.4% and 13% respectively. “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.
Worldwide shipments of mobile PCs are predicted to fare slightly better, increasing 9% from last year to 155.6 million units. Desk-based PCs are expected to see a 31.9% decline from 2008, reaching only 101.4 million units. The continued growth in mini-notebook shipments should bolster mobile PC growth, reports Gartner. Shipments of other mobile PCs, excluding mini-notebooks, will realize only a 2.7% increase.
Predicted totals for mini-notebook shipments worldwide are 21 million units, up from 11.7 million units in 2008. Although they will buffer the market slowdown, according to Gartner, mini-notebooks are predicted to represent only 8% of PC shipments for the year.
“Normal seasonality typically means that the third quarter sell in is stronger than sell out, due to inventory build effects, but clearly in the fourth quarter of 2008 vendors saw signals that demand was weakening and sent signals up the supply chain to stop building,” said Charles Smulders, managing vice president at Gartner. “At the same time, the channel cut back inventory due to a combination of economic uncertainty and the credit squeeze. Unlike 2001, vendors were able to react relatively quickly to the signals and push the inventory risk on to the component suppliers. We expect the pattern of stronger sell out demand than sell in to continue through the first half of 2009, with the channel choosing to hold inventory at historically low levels.”

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