Worldwide shipments of PCs will fall this year by 1.6 per cent, to 129.6 million units - down from last year's figure of 131.7 million units.

This is due to sharply lower sales of consumer PCs in the US and Japan, according to a report by market analyst International Data Corp (IDC).

IDC said that poor economic conditions worldwide were the main reason for falling sales.

Further fall Instead of the anticipated recovery in the second quarter, consumer PC shipments in the US fell 17 per cent compared to the first quarter. Consumer PC sales in the US this year will reach 14.1 million units, 25 per cent lower than last year's 18.9 million units.

Sales of commercial PCs will also fall, by 5.2 per cent to 28 million units from last year's 29.5 million units. This will result in total sales of PCs in the US being 13 per cent lower than last year.

IDC said the malaise would continue into next year, with consumer PC shipments falling a further 17.8 per cent in 2002, and commercial PC shipments showing a small growth of 2.8 per cent.

Outside the US, sales of consumer PCs will be flat this year at 30 million, after recording 39 per cent growth from 1999 to 2000. Sales of commercial PCs will rise by 7.8 per cent outside the US this year.