No wonder Microsoft stock closed below $16 today, at a startling $15.79: Research giant Gartner today said the PC industry “will experience its sharpest unit decline in history” this year.
It predicted PC shipments will fall 11.9 percent this year, to 257 million units. That tops the previous record fall of 3.2 percent in 2001.
“The PC industry is facing extraordinary conditions as the global economy continues to weaken, users stretch PC lifetimes and PC suppliers grow increasingly cautious,” George Shiffler, Gartner research director, said in the release.
Both developed and emerging markets will suffer simultaneously, the firm said. It predicts emerging markets will see a 10.4 percent decline — still a little better than the 11.1 percent fall they saw in 2002. Mature markets are expected to fall 13 percent, much worse than the 7.9 percent drop in 2001.
Sales of netbook mini laptops will grow to 21 million units, up from 11.7 million last year. That will cushion the slowdown “but they remain too few to prevent the market’s steep decline” with only 8 percent of the market, Gartner said in it release.
Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean bargains will abound. PC makers anticipated the declines and began cutting back inventories in the fourth quarter.