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Gartner: 2B PCs By 2014

Stamford, Conn. — Gartner analysts are predicting the worldwide installed base of PCs will surpass 2 billion units by early 2014 if growth continues at its current annual rate of just under 12 percent.

According to the IT research and advisory company, the number of installed PCs worldwide has already passed 1 billion units.

The company uses the term “installed base” to refer to PCs that are in use as opposed with the number of PCs shipped over a given period. Its most recent PC market predictions are part of the report “Forecast: PC Installed Base, Worldwide, 2004-2012.”

Though the world’s installed base of PCs remains heavily concentrated in mature markets, Gartner said it expects emerging markets to claim an increasingly larger share of the world’s installed base going forward as PC penetration in those markets continue to drive growth.

“Mature markets such as the United States, Western Europe, and Japan currently account for 58 percent of the world’s installed PCs, but these markets only account for 15 percent of the world’s population,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner.

Shiffler added that Gartner expects per capita PC penetration in emerging markets to double by 2013, as a result of “the explosive expansion of broadband and wireless connectivity in these markets. The continuing fall in PC average selling prices, and the general realization that PCs are an indispensable tool for advancement.”

Luis Anavitarte, research VP at Gartner, noted emerging governments’ increasing commitment to promoting PC use among their citizens through a variety of means. He said, “Whereas mature markets accounted for just under 60 percent of the first billion installed PCs, we expect emerging markets to account for approximately 70 percent of the next billion installed PCs.”

Beyond its growth expectations for emerging markets, Gartner is also expecting the PC market to be supported by replacement sales but is concerned about the recycling issues that come along with such growth.

“We forecast just over 180 million PCs — approximately 16 percent of the existing installed base — will be replaced this year,” said Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner. He said the firm estimates one-fifth of these older PCs “will be dumped into a landfill with little or no regard for their toxic content. The disposition of retired PCs has become a high-profile issue for many PC vendors, governments and environmental interest groups. It will become and even more pressing issue, especially in emerging markets, as the number of retired PCs grows with the continuing expansion of the installed PC base.”

Gartner will provide more detailed analysis on the state of the PC industry, server and printer markets during its Gartner Hardware Briefing being held June 25th at its U.K. headquarters.