China overtook Japan in IT spending this year to become the world's second largest IT market, according to market research firm IDC.
The U.S. remains the largest IT market in the world, still more than three times the size of China. But China's IT spending is increasing by double digits, and technology industry investment is a high priority there.
China's IT spending increased by 8.3% this year, nearly double that of the U.S., and is forecast to further grow by 14.1% next year, said Frank Gens, chief analyst at IDC.
The clearest evidence of China's interest in building a technology market is its development of the world's fastest supercomputer, topping the Top 500 list.
China's overall IT spending is projected to hit $204 billion in 2014, versus $686 billion in the U.S., said Gens.
U.S. IT spending grew 4.7% in 2013, and is forecast to rise by 3.8% next year.
China's IT spending will increase by $25 billion in 2014, the same dollar increase as in the U.S.
"It's going to be quite a while before it (China) closes the gap" with the U.S., said Gens, who expects China's IT growth rate to slow as it grows.
In 2013, China's IT spending will total $179 billion, beating Japan's $173 billion by $5 billion.
China's rate of spending says "that China is the place you have to be if you are in the IT market," said Gens.
In the global market, IDC expects global IT spending to rise by 5.1% next year to over $2.1 trillion.
The 2014 forecast for the global IT market would have been higher -- 5.6% -- if not for the steep decline in PC sales, said Gens.
PC sales account for about 10% of all global IT spending. IDC projects that PC revenue will decline by 9% this year, and by about 6% next year.
The PC revenue decline is reflected in PC shipments, which are down 10.1%, reported IDC.
Despite the revenue drag created by global PC sales, other segments of IT spending, including IT services and software, increased this year.
Server revenue declined by 3.5% this year but is expected to increase by 1.6% next year.
Gens said IT spending is rising, but users are shifting to cloud computing, mobile technology and big data, and IT managers will have to adapt.
In 2014, for instance, IDC expects that 25% to 30% of all servers will be shipped to cloud servers providers. By 2017, that percentage is expected to reach 43%.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.