Sales of computers are poised to drop for the first time since the original technology crash of 2001, iSuppli said in a study today. The research team had originally thought shipments would grow a very slight 0.7 percent in spite of the economic crash but are now set to drop 4 percent year-over-year to 287.3 million computers in 2009. The decline isn't as severe as the 2001 drop, which shrank the market by 5.1 percent, but is seen as more significant as it doesn't come on the back of "inflated" spending, as it did eight years earlier.
Principal analyst Matthew Wilkins attributes much of the drop not to the poor economy but to a transition away from desktops that hasn't been countered by an exact match in notebooks. Shipments of these systems are predicted to fall by a sharp 18.1 percent while notebooks should climb by 11.7 percent and make up just under 156 million units, or 54 percent of computers of any form. Low-end servers should also be hit hard as smaller companies avoid spending money on upgrades.
The change will mark the first time notebooks have overtaken desktops for an entire year's worth of sales and is credited to the quickly closing performance gap, as many notebooks now perform close enough to desktops for many to switch to a portable. Major shifts in product lineups for Apple, Dell and others towards notebooks are often believed to stem a recognition of the move away from desktops.
Some of the damage in 2009 should be mitigated at the end of the year, when shipments are estimated to rise 3.6 percent higher than the same period in 2008. A wider recovery is also anticipated for 2010 and could have shipments climb by 4.7 percent.