Growth rates in worldwide PC sales have slumped to just 1.1 per cent, according to the latest figures from Gartner.
The analyst firm reported that 78.1 million units were shipped worldwide, but that revenues suffered a record decline owing to retail discounts and the growth of low cost segments like netbooks.
"The US experienced steeper than expected shipment declines due to the recession. The Europe, Middle East and Africa region was also affected by the economic slowdown across key countries," said Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group.
"Asia/Pacific recorded the worst shipment growth since Gartner started its PC statistics research. Latin America met expectations, but its growth was much lower than in the past."
Market leader HP performed better than expected, growing sales by 3.5 per cent to hold 19.1 per cent of the market. Dell, by contrast, had a bad quarter, with sales dropping 5.9 per cent to give it a market share of 13.2 per cent, despite strong performance in Asian markets.
Acer had a very successful quarter, due almost entirely to its early lead in the netbook market. Sales were up 31.1 per cent, giving it 12.3 per cent of the global market and making it the third most popular PC manufacturer.
"The fourth quarter started out with a relatively optimistic view, but then it got worse every month," said Kitagawa.
US businesses cut IT spending in the fourth quarter, and the public sector, including some government and education buyers, postponed PC procurement owing to budget concerns.
"PC vendors focused on the professional market were especially hit by the weakening market conditions," said Kitagawa.
"Overall, consumer mobile PC shipments showed strength, but the shipment growth was boosted by steep average selling price declines which were further accelerated by the popularity of mini-notebooks."
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