Gartner is predicting the steepest decline in PC unit shipments in history for 2009, with worldwide declines hitting 11.9 percent.
This year's drop will far surpass the 3.2 percent fall-off that took place 2001 which incurred by the dual hits of the dot-com bubble burst and the 9/11 terror attacks.
“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, Gartner's research director.
Mature markets will suffer the greatest, with the number of units shipped expected to fall 13 percent. Emerging markets will also perform poorly, with a 10.4 percent decline.
Despite the problems facing the industry the portable category, including full-sized notebooks and netbooks, will experience substantial growth, Gartner said.
Worldwide mobile PC shipments are expected to reach 155.6 million units, a 9 percent increase from 2008. Desk-based PC shipments are forecast to total 101.4 million units, a 31.9 percent decline from 2008. Mobile PC growth will be substantially boosted by continued growth in mini-notebook shipments; excluding mini notebooks, other mobile PC shipments will grow just 2.7 percent in 2009.