Both IDC and Gartner have released their global PC shipment numbers for the first quarter of 2009 and, just as Intel hinted during its earnings call yesterday, the decline compared to last year was smaller than expected, with some categories like netbooks actually showing impressive growth. Specifically, IDC said worldwide shipments of desktop and portable PCs fell 7.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared with 2008 while Gartner said they registered a decline of 6.5 percent in the quarter to 67.2 million units.

HP extended its lead in the worldwide PC market while Dell slipped a few points and Acer gained a few others to finish the quarter in a virtual tie for the number two spot. The U.S. market in particular held up better than others, with shipments dipping somewhere between 0.3 and 3.1 percent depending on who you ask. But while the worldwide ranking stayed unchanged from last year, Dell's shipments dropped precipitously in the United States, which cost them the number one spot in the country after a 10-year run as the top shipper of PCs.

Netbooks continue to be the growth driver for the PC industry, but while the promising U.S. results would seem to corroborate recent statements made by Intel that the worst part of the recession is over, Gartner warned that that this could have derived from the channel restocking itself and said it was too early to tell if the global market had reached a low point.