* Lowers growth of global PC shipment forecast to 0.7 pct
* PC shipments down 1.5 pct in Q4 2008 from previous quarter
* Taiwan's Acer saw shipments surge 57.9 pct in 2008
TAIPEI - Research firm iSuppli has lowered its forecast growth for worldwide PC shipments to 0.7 percent from 4.3 percent previously, citing the severe global economic crisis as a key reason.
The latest forecast meant that global shipments of PCs, which include desktops, laptops and low-cost netbooks, will likely hit 301.5 million units this year, up from 299.4 million units in 2008, based on iSuppli figures.
iSuppli expects an acceleration of decline in the desktop segment in 2009, along with a reduction of the growth rate in the notebook segment, leading to weak growth for the year, iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins said in a statement.
The research firm also said that global PC shipments slipped 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 from the previous quarter, compared with the double-digit percentage growth typically seen in previous years.
The PC sector hardly felt the impact of the global credit crisis in the first three quarters of last year until the final three months of 2008.
Although consumers around the world started to feel the full impact of the credit crisis in the third quarter of 2008, this phenomenon didn't negatively impact PC sales, Wilkins said. However, by the fourth quarter, even the PC market succumbed to economic reality.
Acer (2353.TW), the world's third-largest PC brand, was the best performer among the top five, with its shipments up 57.9 percent in 2008, fuelled by the success of its low-cost netbooks.
Netbooks were first pioneered by Asustek (2357.TW) of Taiwan in 2007, but most other brands including Dell (DELL.O) and Lenovo (0992.HK) have all pushed their own line as price-conscious consumers hit by the crisis look to taper their spending.
Other brands that saw double-digit shipment growth last year included global leader Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N), which grew 12.9 percent, and No. 5 player Toshiba (6104.T), which grew 22.1 percent.
(Reporting by Kelvin Soh, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)