Worldwide demand for PCs collapsed in the fourth quarter, according to IDC, with the market research firm saying shipments were down 0.4 per on the fourth quarter of 2007 and warning that a repeat of 2001's crisis is no longer unfeasible.
Blaming the rapid collapse of the global economy, IDC said that roughly six years of strong year-on-year growth came to an end during the fourth quarter of 2008. According to the firm, fourth quarter growth averaged 15 per cent between 2003 and 2007, but that collapsed, with shipments down 0.4 per cent according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
Even the recent boom in low cost netbooks wasn't enough to stem the tide of falling demand according to IDC, though it was keen to stress that shipments are expected to double again in 2010. Much of the decline has come from the laptop market, which saw its growth slashed from 40 per cent in recent months to 20 per cent.
"For all that's been said about this recession being different than 2001, the drop in PC growth from the mid-teens the preceding year to near flat growth in the most recent quarter shows that the impact of this crisis looks similar to last time around," said IDC's program director for its Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, Loren Lovede.
"It is tempting to argue that international markets will be less affected, or that low prices and the transition to portables will lessen the impact, but the market has taken a serious hit and the competitive environment along with a race to low-cost portables could easily undermine profits from mobile computing," she added. "I won't be surprised if recovery gets pushed further into 2010 as this crisis unfolds."
Sales in EMEA were not as badly affected, but still saw growth slow to single-digits, despite the global recession. Portables continued to remain strong, with growth of around 25 per cent, fuelled largely by consumer demand and a strong push based around mobile broadband bundles.
In terms of vendors, HP managed to retain its position as the number one vendor globally, increasing its market share by 0.6 per cent year-on-year thanks to growth of 3.1 per cent during the same period.
Its closest rival Dell suffered the worst though seeing its share of the market fall by around 0.9 per cent due to a decline of 6.3 per cent of growth. Acer though benefited hugely from its merger last year, seeing its market share increase by 1.6 per cent with growth of 15.5 per cent.