FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) -- Research firm IDC said Thursday that worldwide personal computer shipments fell 1.9 percent during the fourth quarter and projected a further 8 percent drop in the first half of the year.
IDC noted the decline comes after "five years of almost uninterrupted double-digit growth," a sign of how high a toll the recession is taking on the technology industry.
The forecast dovetails with Gartner Inc.'s estimate this week that PC unit sales are likely to tumble 11.9 percent to 257 million this year.
IDC doesn't expect the downturn to be as bad for PC makers as the dot-com bubble of 2001, however.
"To be sure, the PC market is in for a bumpy ride," Loren Loverde, an IDC director, said in a statement. "Nevertheless, there are a number of reasons why the PC market will not fare dramatically worse in the current environment than it did in the 2001 recession -- even if the current economic environment is notably worse."
The firm noted that PCs are more critical for more people and cost significantly less than at the beginning of the decade. IDC said a typical PC costs roughly half what it did in 2000 and prices are still falling.
More computer buyers are also buying laptops today, which need to be replaced more often, IDC said.
IDC shares fell 78 cents, or 3.63 percent, to $20.70 in morning trading.