The global PC industry will suffer its 'sharpest decline in history' in 2009, as overall demand for PCs falls by 11.9 percent compared with 2008, according to analysts at Gartner.
The new low beats the previous record decline of just 3.2 percent, which took place in 2001. According to a statement from Gartner, both emerging and mature markets are forecast "to suffer unprecedented market slowdowns".
The worst previously recorded performance in emerging market PC sales was growth of 11.1 percent in 2002, but in 2009 they will see contraction of 10.4 percent. Mature market sales had a record fall of 7.9 percent in 2001, but this year they will fall by 13 percent, Gartner said.
One relatively bright spot has been the success of netbooks, which are forecast to total 21 million units in 2009 — almost double the 2008 figure of 11.7 million. Netbooks will "cushion the overall PC market slowdown, but they remain too few to prevent the market's steep decline," the Gartner report said.
Netbooks are forecast to represent eight percent of PC shipments in 2009.
Gartner senior analyst Angela McIntyre said in a statement that "mature markets continue to be the primary consumers of [netbooks] but as prices continue to fall, they are likely to attract increasing numbers of emerging market buyers".
All PC suppliers will struggle over the coming months, said Gartner senior analyst Ranjit Atwal. "It will come down to... how exposed they are and in which markets," he said.
"If you look at HP, they look in better shape than some because they are spread between the home and the business markets," Atwal told ZDNet UK on Monday. "But if you look at Dell, they have a big dependency on certain markets and particularly the UK market."
Atwal said particular manufacturers' responses to the decline depended on their relative exposure to the PC market. "Some of them like Toshiba, Sony and others are not dependent on the PC market," he pointed out. "They have the option, and I am not saying they would, just to get out if it is not worthwhile anymore."