First-quarter global PC shipments fell 8.1% year-on-year, according to market researcher iSuppli, dragged down by weaker-than-expected desktop PC shipments.

Shipments of desktops, which primarily go to businesses, fell 23% year-over-year, which iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins attributed to recessionary pressures.

Shipments of laptops, including netbooks, were a bright spot, however, growing 10% year over year. Netbooks should account for one out of seven laptops shipped this year, up from one out of 11 in 2008, iSuppli said.

Overall, first quarter shipments were 66.5 million units, down from 72.3 million in the same period a year ago, and down 14.4% from 77.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The 8.1% year-over-year drop was the biggest decline in the seven years iSuppli has been tracking the market. It is also double the 4% decline iSuppli had been predicting.

iSuppli's numbers are gloomier than IDC's figures.

The market researcher saw global shipments fall a slightly lower 7.1%, which was less than the 8.2% drop it had earlier predicted. IDC said in April that falling PC prices, led by netbooks, propped up shipments.

iSuppli did not comment on whether it saw average sale prices fall. The plunge in desktop shipments and growth in netbook shipments that iSuppli says were propped up by bundled hardware-service deals from wireless operators would imply that, though.

Market leader HP's shipments remained flat at 13 million units, according to iSuppli. With a market share of 19.7%, HP remained atop the market for the 11th quarter in a row.

Number-two vendor Dell, however, saw shipments decline 18.7% to 8.8 million, hurt by poor desktop shipments, Wilkins said. Its market share fell to 13.2% from 14.9% a year earlier.

Asian vendors Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba rounded out the top five.

Toshiba had the strongest gain, with its shipments growing 13.5% year-over-year.

Computerworld US