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Gartner: PC sales to make slight recovery by year's end

Demand isn't as dire as originally forecast; sales will be down just 2 percent for the year.

Despite earlier, more dire predictions, PC sales are now estimated to fall off just 2 percent from 2008 totals, according to a report released Wednesday.

The latest forecast issued from market research firm Gartner says PC shipments should reach 285 million units by the end of 2009. That's just slightly off last year's shipments of 291 million. The forecast is markedly improved over June's estimates from Gartner, which forecast a 6 percent decline for the year.

Dell CULV notebook
Thin and light notebooks like Dell's Inspiron 11z will challenge smaller Netbooks. Dell

The better-than-anticipated demand is being driven mostly by notebook and Netbooks in China and the U.S., according to Gartner research director George Shiffler.

"Mobile PC shipments have regained substantial momentum, especially in emerging markets, and the decline in desk-based PC shipments is slowing down. We think shipments are likely to be growing again in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to the fourth quarter of 2008."

And while the introduction of Windows 7 in late October should stimulate sales, it won't be a significant factor at first--something echoed by most PC industry analysts.

"At best, Windows 7 may generate a modest bump in home demand and possibly some added demand among small businesses. However, we aren't expecting most larger businesses, governments, and educational institutions to express strong demand for the new operating system until late 2010," Shiffler said.

While Gartner finds Netbooks sales are continuing to chug along, as expected, they're beginning to be challenged by cheaper thin and light notebooks that have recently started shipping. Netbook shipments will reach 25 million units by the end of the year, and 37 million by the end of 2010, but they will peak "earlier than before (forecasted)," according to Gartner's count.