More than 1 billion PCs now in use worldwide

There are now over a billion PCs in active use, according to analyst firm Gartner, with the number predicted to double by 2014.

There are now more than a billion PCs in active use worldwide, according to analyst house Gartner.

On Gartner's estimation that the installed base of PCs is growing at an annual rate of almost 12 percent, there will be two billion PCs in use by 2014, the analysts said on Monday. The findings are included in the Gartner report Forecast: PC Installed Base, Worldwide, 2004-2012.

According to Gartner, most of the one billion PCs in use--a separate estimate from that of the number of PCs that have been shipped--are mainly to be found in mature markets, but emerging markets are set to gain a larger share of the total in future.

"Mature markets, such as the US, 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 research director George Shiffler. "But, rapid economic development across emerging markets is not only narrowing the disparity in average living standards, it's closing the difference in per-capita PC penetration between mature and emerging markets."

According to Shiffler, per-capita PC penetration in emerging markets will double by 2013, driven by "the explosive expansion" of wired and wireless broadband connectivity, along with a fall in average selling prices for PCs.

The report also suggests that just over 180 million PCs will be replaced this year. This figure represents 16 percent of the existing installed base, and around a fifth of these replaced PCs will be "dumped into landfill with little or no regard for their toxic content", said Meike Escherich, a principal research analyst at Gartner.

"The disposition of retired PCs has become a high-profile issue for many PC vendors, governments and environmental interest groups," said Escherich. "It will become an even more pressing issue, especially in emerging markets, as the number of retired PCs grows with the continuing expansion of the PC installed base."

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