PC sales in Asia fell five per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the region's first such decline in a decade as the global downturn sapped demand.
The fourth-quarter drop in Asia, excluding Japan, was well ahead of 0.4 per cent drop in international PC sales for the period, according to data tracking firm International Data. It was the region's first decline since the third quarter of 1998 at the height of the Asia financial crisis, said IDC PC analyst Bryan Ma.
"This quarter was quite a jaw-dropper – not just in China, but also in India where economic and channel issues really took their toll," Ma said.
"The clouds are darkening in 2009, although there might be some pockets of shelter in the region."
Regional leader Lenovo, China's dominant player, took the biggest hit of all of the region's key players, notching a 4.4 per cent decline in fourth quarter shipments.
Earlier this month, Lenovo announced a major restructuring including 2,500 job cuts, as it forecast a loss in its December quarter.
The region's No2 player, Hewlett-Packard also saw its fourth quarter regional sales dip 3.6 per cent. But No3 player Dell came on strong with a 15.4 per cent increase, followed by the Taiwanese pair of Acer and Asustek, up 7.8 per cent and 26.5 per cent, respectively.
The region posted nine per cent growth for the full year, less than half the 22 per cent from a year earlier and the slowest growth rate since 2001.
Lenovo remained the region's top player for the year with 18.3 per cent market share, up slightly from 18.2 per cent in 2007. HP boosted its share to 14.1 per cent from 13.2 per cent, while Dell and Acer both posted strong gains of more than a percentage point.
The personal computer industry's fading fortunes come after the sector stood tall for most of the last year, even as other technology sectors foundered.
But all that has changed in the past two months, with a slew of sales warnings and cuts in business forecasts signalling the sudden downturn may last through most of 2009.