ITWire picks apart a report from CCID, a Chinese research firm, suggesting that "Investments in informatization are becoming more cautious, the postponing and cancellations of system construction have led to a drop in Linux shipment[s]."
While no information is provided on Windows or Mac sales to provide a baseline (Is Linux growth slowing more than its competitors?), it's interesting to me that it's slowing at all. I would think that Linux adoption would grow in a downturn, at least in relatively new markets where Windows hasn't completely conditioned businesses and consumers to expect a Windows experience.
It's possible that the drop in Linux shipments stems from publicity over alleged government spying through Red Flag Linux, China's dominant Linux distribution. Maybe the flight from Linux is a flight to safety?
It's more likely, however, that years of Chinese piracy have made entrenched Microsoft's Windows, making it hard for a Linux challenger to keep pace in a spiraling economy. Reuters reports that more and more copies of Windows in China are legitimately bought due to government decree.
Even so, I suspect that the economic downturn is rejuvenating Windows piracy again, to Linux's detriment.