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Gartner: Better-than-expected demand for PCs

PC sales are estimated to decline just two percent from 2008 totals, a significant improvement on earlier predictions, according to a report.

PC sales are estimated to decline just two percent from 2008 totals, a significant improvement on earlier predictions, according to a report released on Wednesday.

According to the latest forecast issued from market research firm Gartner, PC shipments should reach 285 million units by the end of the year. That is just slightly off last year's shipments of 291 million. The forecast is markedly improved over June's estimates from Gartner, which forecasted a six percent decline for the year.

The better-than-anticipated demand is being driven mostly by notebook and netbook sales in China and the US, according to Gartner research director, George Shiffler.

"Mobile PC shipments have regained substantial momentum — especially in emerging markets — and the decline in desk-based PC shipments is slowing down. We think shipments are likely to grow again in the fourth quarter of 2009, compared to the fourth quarter of 2008," he said.

And while the introduction of Windows 7 in late October should stimulate sales, it will not be a significant factor at first — something echoed by most PC industry analysts.

"At best, Windows 7 may generate a modest bump in home demand and possibly some added demand among small businesses. However, we aren't expecting most larger businesses, governments and educational institutions to express strong demand for the new operating system until late 2010," Shiffler said.

While Gartner found that netbooks sales continue to slowly rise, as expected, they're beginning to be challenged by cheaper thin and light notebooks, which have recently started shipping. Netbook shipments will reach 25 million units by the end of the year and 37 million by the end of 2010, but they will peak "earlier than before (forecasted)", according to Gartner's count.

This article was originally posted on CNET News.