Desktop PC Shipments Are Expected to Fall to Record Lows in 2009

If InformationWeek is right, desktop PC manufacturers are in for a bleak 2009. InfoWeek reports that global PC sales will most likely fall by 12% this year. If that happens, it will easily surpass the record 3.2% drop registered in the year 2001.

Citing the market research firm, Gartner, the report says that the combined effects of the current economic slowdown, as well as changing consumer behavior, have influenced the bleak outlook. With more and more people out of jobs, and money being tight, desktop PC owners are trying to save money by holding on to their current machines. Businesses are also seen to follow the same pattern as individual PC owners.

The reduced replacements will especially affect mature markets where about 80% of sales rely on replacements. What’s more, desktop PCs are facing stiff competition from laptops and netbooks. While Gartner speculates a colossal drop in desktop PC sales, they expect mini laptops, netbooks, laptops and other mobile PC devices to sell 9% more units within the year. The popularity of mobile PCs, or mini-laptops in particular, will be boosted by the decreasing prices in this segment, which generally falls below $500 nowadays.

For my part, I agree that netbooks are eating away precious sales for desktop PCs. I think that netbooks and mini-laptops have gotten more powerful over the last few months, and could easily rival desktop PCs. With mobile PCs, you get the added convenience of being able to carry it around; plus the fact that these devices have been getting lighter and lighter, while maintaining the same level of functionality and design that desktop PC users are accustomed to (i.e., using a standard sized keyboard, and having a comparable memory capacity). That added mobility and portability is an essential enhancement.

As to the first reason cited for the negative outlook, I think that it’s not black and white. I believe the reason why desktop PC owners are not replacing their machines is that there is simply no reason to, and not exactly because of the dwindling financial resources. When you really come to think of it, there have been no major OS upgrades in the recent months, and certainly there’s nothing big scheduled in the near future.

Windows7 is still in beta, while Linux-based OS platforms seem to be on a standstill. The only dynamic Linux OS that’s generating quite a buzz is Android, which is made primarily for mobile phones. Business and individual users need a compelling reason to upgrade their machines, and at the moment, that is absent.

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