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Report: 2009 to be PC industry's worst year since dot-com implosion

This year is expected to be the first time since 2001 that PC shipments will see a decline compared with the previous year, according to new projections from iSuppli.

At the end of this year, the number of PCs shipped is expected to be lower than the previous year, a rarity for the industry.

In fact, it would be the first time that's happened since 2001, when the tech world collapsed in on itself, according to market research firm iSuppli. A report released Tuesday by iSuppli is projecting that 287.3 million PCs will be shipped in 2009, a 4 percent decrease from the 299.2 million shipped around the world in 2008.

And though expectations weren't particularly high for this year, the industry is now on track to do worse than previously thought: iSuppli had predicted 0.7 percent growth for the year. PC makers have been able to ship more each year for eight straight years, so it's fair to say this dip is unusual. Said iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins, "Even in weak years, PC unit shipments typically rise by single-digit percentages."

The culprit in this case is the fading out of the desktop computer. Shipments of desktops are expected to decline 18.1 percent this year, as notebook PCs become ever more popular. Notebooks are on track to grow almost 12 percent this year, for the first time outpacing desktop shipments for a whole year.

It's been clear for several years that PC buyers prefer mobility, and the increasing power of notebooks have helped push more customers in that direction. PC manufacturers have looked for ways in the last couple years to reinvigorate desktop sales. Many have been pushing all-in-one desktop computers, some with touch-screen interfaces. iSuppli's numbers show that mainstream consumers have yet to take the bait.

Another factor in the sagging PC industry is the severe drop off in IT spending by large corporate customers. There could be good news ahead though. Dell's CFO said Monday the company is seeing demand for its computers, servers, and services stabilizing, which could mean they think they've seen the bottom of the market.