Future Growth in PCs Will Be Outside the Domain of US Patent Law
The number of PC users is expected to hit or exceed 1 billion by 2010, up from around 660 million to 670 million today, fueled primarily by new adopters in developing nations such as China, Russia and India, according to analysts.
Hitting a billion [computers] in a few years appears inevitable. IDC estimates that there were 670 million PC users worldwide in 2003. A little more than a 152 million PCs will leave factories this year, and that tally is expected to grow over time. With about half of these going to new users, IDC believes that the PC user population will grow to 1.2 billion by the end of 2009, a 79 percent increase over six years.
Gartner says there were 631.8 million PC users at the end of 2003 and 661 million now. The number will hit 953 million at the end of 2008 and cross over the billion mark in 2009. While those are huge numbers on paper, the annual compound growth rate is about 8 percent, Gartner analyst George Schiffler said.
Prices, however, will increasingly become an issue as the user population expands. A low-end Windows PC costs about $350 without a monitor. That's just above the $340 per-capita income of Vietnam, according to statistics from that country's Can Tho University. Not all the new users will own their own system: Many will likely first learn through places like the PC baangs in South Korea.
"There is a remarkable reliance on cybercafes in many of the emerging markets, especially in Asia and Africa--and these are not the cybercafes as we imagine them, either. We are sometimes talking about just a battered old PC sitting on the sidewalk in a lane off a busy street," wrote Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist at Intel who has been researching PC use in Asia for the past few years. "At least 70 percent of the market in India and many other markets is still 'assembled PCs' that are built for a particular person."