According to IDC, strong back-to-school demand boosted global PC shipments in the third quarter of 2009, increasing 2.3% after three consecutive quarters of decline. The firm believes the PC market is on a fast track to recovery, with worldwide shipments projected to grow by double digits on a yearly basis through 2013. The total number of computers sold could reach 321.4 million next year, compared to 291.4 million units in 2009 -- and that trend is expected to continue. Shipments could reportedly hit 444.4 million in 2013.

Projected Global PC Shipments by Form Factor, 2008-2013
System 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Desktop PC 144.9 126.2 126.2 128.2 130.7 131.9
Portable PC 142.7 165.2 195.2 231.9 272.2 312.5
Total PC 287.6 291.4 321.4 360.1 402.9 444.44

With growth on the horizon, PC makers will try to attract consumers by introducing products with features like ultrathin designs, LED panels, and touchscreens. "Beyond stabilizing their business, PC venders are trying to position themselves for gains as the market recovers," said Jay Chou, an IDC research analyst. IDC predicts that desktop sales will suffer as consumers transition to laptops and other mobile products, and netbooks may be threatened by more powerful, aggressively priced ultrathin notebooks.