Market research firm iSuppli Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., forecasts 2009 growth of 4.3 percent in global personal computer shipments to 316 million units from 2008's 303 million units and further shifting in demand for notebooks and desktops.
Notebook computer shipments should increase about 15 percent, while desktop shipments should decline about 5 percent.
The notebook segment ``is currently performing very well and has strong momentum,'' iSuppli said. Low prices on entry-level ``netbooks'' may drive demand for that new portion of the notebook market. Small, energy-efficient netbooks are useful for accessing Internet-based applications, such as e-mail or Google's suite of word processing and spreadsheet applications.
iSuppli cut its earlier growth forecast of 11.9 percent to 4.3 percent for 2009, because of dramatic changes in the global economy said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for computer platforms.
Another analyst said manufacturers require less plastic resin to produce today's smaller versions of computing devices and desktop minitowers.
The rise of the Atom-brand processor from Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., has made a difference, said analyst Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc. in Wayland, Mass. Intel developed the Atom microarchitecture for low power consumption and the small form factors of mobile Internet devices, Web-centric netbooks and ``nettop'' systems which did not exist a year ago.
Kay projects ``tens of millions'' of these devices will be shipped.
Smaller notebooks have panels with diagonal sizes of 8-12 inches. ``The volume in the past was 14-15 inches,'' Kay said. ``The bulk of the market is in 14-inch panels, but the average is shifting down.''
The desktop minitower is ``the single most popular form factor,'' he said. ``Those wanting high performance [such as game players] get big machines, but the rest are moving down'' to smaller sizes.
On the economic front, the projected decline in computer shipments is likely to be much worse than the dot-com bubble and more dramatic than anyone thought only a few months ago, Kay said.
Meanwhile, some original equipment makers such as Dell Inc. of Round Rock, Texas, and Beijing-based Lenovo Group Ltd. are switching some models to aluminum or magnesium alloy casings instead of plastic housings.
To pare costs, Dell has outsourced most production to contract manufacturers but, so far, has not found buyers for its plants.
Organic-light-emitting-diode displays will come into the market for notebooks and ``could get into desktop monitors,'' Kay said.
Unlike traditional liquid crystal displays, an OLED display does not need a backlight to function and, therefore, is thinner and uses less power. Makers of OLED displays, however, need to cut costs to compete with the entrenched LCD technology.
International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass., projects a 13.5 percent drop in domestic shipments of printers and multifunctional peripherals, to 24.9 million units from last year's 28.8 million.
``We expect that all of our segments will be negatively impacted,'' said Alyson Frasco, IDC director of worldwide hardcopy peripheral trackers and forecasts.
``Those hit hardest are expected to be those driven by consumer sales such as inkjet and low-end laser devices, as well as those products with big price tags such as the production segment,'' Frasco said.
On a positive note, Gartner Inc. in San Jose, Calif., forecasts 3.1 percent growth for 2009 in global shipments of printer, copier and multifunction peripherals to 148.3 million from 143.9 million last year.