EL SEGUNDO, CA – The credit crisis came home to roost for the global PC market in the fourth quarter of 2008, ending a sustained period when sales seemed to defy economic gravity, according to iSuppli Corp.
“Although consumers around the world started to feel the full impact of the credit crisis in the third quarter of 2008, this phenomenon didn’t negatively impact PC sales,” observed Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli.
“However, by the fourth quarter, even the PC market succumbed to economic reality, with shipments declining 1.5% compared to the third quarter.”
Global PC shipments amounted to 77.9 million units for the quarter, down 1.5% sequentially.
“The impact of the credit crunch is clearly apparent in the PC shipments, given that the historical average for sequential fourth-quarter PC growth is in the region of 10%,” Wilkins added. The sequential decline in shipments is a factor of the limited availability of credit, for both businesses and consumers. As a result, the money that is available must be used sparingly, leaving less for PC purchases.”
Despite the lower-than-expected performance of the PC market in the fourth quarter, 2008 shipments yielded impressive growth of 11.6% year-over-year, reaching 299.4 million units. This compares to 12.4% growth in 2007.
The strong rise in 2008 PC shipments was entirely generated by notebook demand, says the firm. Notebook PC unit shipments rose 35% last year, up from 30% the prior year.
Meanwhile, desktop PC shipments declined 4%, compared to 3% growth in 2007.
“In the PC market, mobility is king,” Wilkins said. “This is because the prices, features, performance, and convenience of mobile PCs are striking a chord with both consumer and business users. The results in 2008 illustrate what is likely to happen for years to come: declining sales of desktops and rising volume for notebooks.”
Global notebook PC shipments exceeded those of desktops on a quarterly basis for the first time ever in the third quarter, marking a watershed event in the history of the industry, says iSuppli.
The trend continued in the fourth quarter, with notebook shipments exceeding those of desktops by 3%.
However, for the entire year, desktop shipments exceeded those of notebooks by 9%.
As a result of rapidly changing market conditions, iSuppli has revised its 2009 unit growth forecast to 0.7%, down from 4.3%.
“iSuppli expects an acceleration of the decline in the desktop segment in 2009, along with a reduction of the growth rate in the notebook segment, leading to weak growth for the year,” Wilkins said.
The rankings of the Top 5 PC makers remained the same sequentially in the fourth quarter. Hewlett-Packard retained its No.-1 ranking for the quarter, with shipments of 14.5 million, and a market share of 18.6%. Dell was second with shipments of 10.3 million, giving the company a share of 13.2%. Rounding out the Top 3 was Acer, with an 11.8% share on 9.2 million units shipped. Lenovo and Toshiba ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, with shares of 7.1 and 4.7%.
For 2008, Acer grew much faster than the overall industry, at 57.9%, while the No.-1 and No.-2 ranked PC OEMs – H-P and Dell – experienced growth in line with the overall industry, at 12.9 and 9.5%, respectively.
Outside the Top 10, Asus and Apple both made notable advances, with Asus expanding its shipments 145%, and Apple 30%.  
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