IDC predicts that PC shipments will grow only 3.8 percent in 2009. Emerging markets in Latin America, Central Europe, and the Middle East will be the hardest hit, even though they have been the regions seeing the fastest growth in the last several years. US shipments are expected to decline by 3 percent in 2009, IDC says, with only slow growth in following years. Portables will continue to outsell desktops, but netbooks will increase sales, not revenues: "Low-cost mini notebooks will help volume but pressure margins and revenues,” said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

“Consumer and commercial segments will be much more conservative in their purchases over the coming year or two, and while low prices will remain essential, they will not drive volumes as they did the past few years."

IDC predicts the biggest decline will be in desktops and x86 servers. In the US, it expects this category to see30.1 million units shipped, compared to 37 million in 2007 and 34.4 million in 2008.

While this category is expected to continue its decline in the US, IDC predicts that, though international sales of desktops and x86 servers will decline in 2009, sales will increase through 2012.

2008 is the first year more portables than desktops were sold. Worldwide portable sales will continue to grow much faster than desktops. In 2012, IDC predicts, there will be 285.7 million portables sold worldwide, compared to only 156.6 desktops and x86 servers.

By Mark Alvarez