“Only 8% of the 4,427 consumers surveyed by ChangeWave in late February say they’ll be buying a laptop in the next 90 days – the lowest level of consumer laptop demand in the past 12 months,” Paul Carton and Jim Woods report for ChangeWave Research. “The same trend was seen in desktop PC purchases, with just 6% saying they’ll be buying one – also a low for the year.”

“Things weren’t any better on the corporate side, where PC buying has also slowed precipitously. In February, only 73% of 2,204 corporate respondents said their company plans on buying laptops in the next quarter – down 4-pts from a year ago. It’s the same pattern for desktops, with corporate purchases down 5-pts,” Carton and Woods report.

Carton and Woods ask, “Given such big declines, which computer manufacturers will be hurt most?”

“Despite the slowing PC environment, planned purchases of Apple Macs remain relatively strong,” Carton and Woods report. “Looking at the next three months, Apple remains the leader among consumers who plan to buy a laptop (31%) – down just 2-pts from the all-time high recorded in our previous survey. Apple planned desktop purchases (28%; down 1-pt) are also near record levels.”

“Importantly, Apple’s numbers are up more than 50% from a year ago,” Carton and Woods report.

“Corporate planned Mac purchases are also at or near record highs, as laptops (7%) were unchanged from previously, while desktops (6%) fell just 1-pt,” Carton and Woods report. “And in a clear sign PC buyers like what Apple is doing, our survey showed the company continues to set the standard for customer satisfaction.”

Carton and Woods report, “Among corporate respondents using the Leopard operating system, over half (53%) report they are Very Satisfied. This compares to a 40% Very Satisfied rating for Windows XP Pro users, and a dismal 8% Very Satisfied rating for Microsoft Vista Business (8%).”

MacDailyNews Take: In our experience, those who claim to be at all “satisfied” with any Windows version have never really tried a Mac.

Carton and Woods continue, “Clearly, the Leopard OS is a crowd pleaser.”

“Dell’s fortunes going forward are far different than Apple’s,” Carton and Woods report. “Our previous consumer PC survey showed Dell with a small uptick in planned consumer buying, but that rise appears short lived – they are once again losing traction going forward. Planned purchases of Dell laptops (28%; down 2-pts) and especially desktops (32%; down 4-pts) are considerably weaker than in our previous survey.”

“Dell is also plagued by a downturn in planned corporate PC buying for next quarter, with desktop (32%; down 3-pts) and laptop (32%; down 1-pt) purchases falling to new lows,” Carton and Woods report. ‘It’s like déjà vu, all over again,’ Yogi Berra famously said, and that’s what it looks like as Dell once again resumes its market share slide.”

Carton and Woods report, “Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) also wasn’t spared in our surveys, as they are experiencing weaker PC sales going forward – led by a big drop in consumer planned buying of desktops (18%; down 5-pts) and laptops (19%; down 2-pts). On the corporate side, planned purchases for H-P desktops fell 1-pt to 17%, while laptops dipped 2-pts to 14%.”

“One thing in H-P’s favor, however, is their strong sales overseas (nearly 70% of their total sales) – where the current slowdown is likely having less of an impact. Note that our ChangeWave surveys focus mainly on the U.S. market,” Carton and Woods report. “When we did ask respondents living outside the U.S. about Hewlett-Packard planned purchases, H-P registered higher market share numbers for consumer desktops (22%), corporate desktops (20%) and corporate laptops (17%).”

Full article and video presentation of the survey findings here.