China is now the world's largest PC market

China is keeping the desktop PC market alive.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

Ever wonder why the desktop PC market lives on? You can thank China.

For the first time ever, China has overtaken the United States as the world's largest personal computer market. In 2012, PC shipments in China reached 69 million units, 3 million more than the U.S. And about half of China's PC shipments were of the desktop variety. Meanwhile, the rest of the world prefers notebook computers, with 64 percent of sales coming from notebooks and 36 percent coming from desktops.

Those are the latest numbers from IHS, which explains the market discrepancy:

“The equal share of shipments for desktops and notebooks in China is unusual, since consumers in most regions today tend to prefer more agile mobile PCs, rather than the bulky, stationary desktops,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for computer platforms at IHS, in a news release. “The relatively large percentage of desktop PC shipments in China is due to huge demand in the country’s rural areas, which account for a major segment of the country’s 1.34 billion citizens. These consumers tend to prefer the desktop form factor.”

By 2014, however, IHS expects China to be more in line with the rest of the world's PC-buying habits.

But China's PC market does have something in common with the rest of the world: it's slowing down. IHS says it is only expected to grow by three to four percent this year as more people move to accessing the Internet from their phones.

Still, China's major investments in digital infrastructure in rural areas means PC demand will continue and China will remain at the top of the PC market for the "foreseeable future." As IHS puts it, "further providing PC brands a rare opportunity for expansion, counter to the myriad travails they face in the rest of the world."

Photo: Flickr/Remko Tanis

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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