Study: PC Markets Slow, With U.S. Hit Hardest

IDC also said that worldwide server revenue fell in the third quarter, a harbinger of what to expect going forward.

In its newest Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, IDC said that it expects total worldwide x86-based PC shipments to grow a mere 3.8 percent to reach 313.9 million units in 2009, up from its estimated shipments in 2008 of 302.3 million units, which is a 12.4 percent increase over 2007's shipments.

IDC includes x86-based desktop and portable PCs as well as x86-based servers in the term "PC."

However, growth should return in 2010, with shipments up 10.9 percent to reach 348 million units, followed by 391.9 million units in 2011 and 442.3 million units in 2012.

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In the U.S., however, the story is different. IDC expects PC sales to rise 3.1 percent to 69.1 million units in 2008, but fall 2.9 percent to 67.1 million units before starting to rise again.

The expected fall in U.S. PC sales, and the expected slowdown in sales worldwide, comes as customers shift quickly from desktop PCs to portable PCs.

IDC said notebook PC shipments will rise in the U.S. steadily from 34.7 million units this year to 50.8 million units by 2012, an overall growth of more than 46 percent. Worldwide, notebook PC shipments should grow from 145.9 million to 285.7 million units, or about 96 percent, during that time.

The slowdown in U.S. PC sales, which will affect both consumer and business markets, will lead to more intense competition, wrote Richard Shim, personal computing research manager, in a statement. "Consolidation is expected as PC makers tough out the competitive climate amid lower than expected volumes and thinner margins," Shim wrote.

IDC in the meantime said in its Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker that worldwide server revenue in the third quarter fell compared to last year's revenue by 5.2 percent to $13.3 billion.

That estimate is in line with that of rival analyst firm Gartner, which on Monday said worldwide server revenue fell 5.4 percent to $12.7 billion during the quarter, thanks to constrained economies and tightened credit.

IDC said all five of the top server vendors saw their server revenue fall compared to last year's sales, with Sun Microsystems taking the biggest hit with a drop of 10.9 percent.

Leading the server vendors was Hewlett-Packard, which sold about $3.9 billion in servers. IBM was a close second with $3.8 billion in server sales. They were followed by Dell, with $1.5 billion in sales, Sun at $1.2 billion and Fujitsu at $647 million.

The real bright spot in the server market was blade servers, which represented 11 percent of all server revenue during the quarter, IDC said. HP's blade server revenue grew 55.5 percent over the third quarter of last year to give the company a 54.7 percent market share, while IBM took a 22.9 percent share and Dell a 9.3 percent share, IDC said.