Gartner expects 2 billion PCs will be in use by 2014

Analyst firm says worldwide use of PCs just surpassed the 1 billion mark

As the number of PCs in use around the world passed the 1 billion mark, a research firm is estimating that the total will double in just another six years.

Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., released a study today noting that the number of PCs in use worldwide is now growing at a rate of just under 12% a year. The firm is not counting the number of PCs shipped every year, but the number of machines it believes to actually be in use.

Gartner analyst Meike Escherich predicted in the report that just over 180 million PCs, or approximately 16% of the worldwide installed base today, will be replaced this year. A fifth of those being replaced, he noted, are expected to be dumped into landfills.

The double-digit growth in the installed base is largely coming from expanding emerging markets.

"Mature markets, such as the United States, Western Europe and Japan, currently account for 58% of the world's installed PCs, but these markets only account for 15% of the world's population," said George Shiffler, a Gartner analyst, in a written statement. "We expect per capita PC penetration in emerging markets to double by 2013. Rapid penetration in emerging markets is being driven by the explosive expansion of broadband and wireless connectivity in these markets and the continuing fall in PC average selling prices."