The PC industry has been hit hard this year, but it has fared better than initially predicted. Gartner, which in June forecasted a 6 percent fall in PC shipments this year, reports that the actual total will be 2 percent, with 285 million PCs shipping in 2009. "Mobile PC shipments have regained substantial momentum, especially in emerging markets, and the decline in desk-based PC shipments is slowing down," said Gartner research director George Shiffler. In the first half of 2009, sales were down 4.4 percent year-over-year. Gartner’s predictions have gotten increasingly positive as 2009 has progressed. In March, the research company projected an 11.9 percent drop in sales, the worst-ever industry decline.

In 2010, PC sales will grow 12.5 percent, Gartner predicts, but revenue will be flat, as the industry deals with the netbook effect.

Netbooks are the industry savior of the recession, and their sales have forced manufacturers to drop prices on full-sized notebooks and desktops, accelerating the sales of more traditional computing devices.

Great news for consumers, but not for the bottom line.

Gartner expects 25 million netbooks to ship this year, up from an earlier prediction of 21 million, which means that nearly 1/10th of all PCs shipped 2009 will be netbooks.

While Windows 7 is getting a push a month before its release – nothing like Vista push in 2006-2007 – and is just around the corner, Gartner does not expect Microsoft’s new OS to drive PC sales, a pretty safe prediction after the Vista fail.

"At best, Windows 7 may generate a modest bump in home demand and possibly some added demand among small businesses,” Shiffler said.

“We're actually more concerned that vendors will overestimate the initial demand for Windows 7 and end up carrying excess inventories into 2010," Shiffler said.

By Mark Alvarez