While both IDC and iSuppli have already cut their forecast for personal computer shipments this year, expecting a growth of around 4 percent compared to last year, research firm Gartner is painting a much drearier picture today. According to them, PC shipments are expected to decline 11.9 percent to 257 million units in 2009, marking the biggest drop in the industry since 2001 when unit shipments fell 3.2 percent.

Demand for laptops and especially mini-notebooks is still expected to grow 9 percent to 155.6 million units. However, this won't be enough to offset an expected decline in shipments of desktop PCs of 31.9 percent that will affect both emerging and mature markets. Whether or not these numbers turn out to be accurate remains to be seen, but such a gloomy forecast is not all that surprising, considering even industry heavyweights like HP and Dell have issued equally lackluster earnings and forecasts recently.