No Way To Go But Up

More Than Two Billion PCs Worldwide By 2015
by: Jerry Liao

By the end of 2008, there will be more than one billion personal computers in use worldwide, according to a new report from Forrester Research, Inc. With PC use growing rapidly in emerging markets and high profile programs in place to reach previously untapped markets, Forrester predicts that there will be more than two billion PCs in use by 2015, representing more than 12 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2003 and 2015.

While it took 27 years to reach one billion PCs, Forrester says it will take only five years to reach the next billion, due to advancing technology, lower prices, and global demand on the part of a technology-aware population. According to Forrester, the emerging Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) market will account for more than 775 million new PCs by 2015.

PC use is growing rapidly worldwide, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of more than 12%, Forrester Research said in its report. That trend is expected to continue through 2015. By the end of 2008, more than 1 billion personal computers are expected to be in use globally.

“There is nothing more important to the long-term health of the technology industry — and personal technology in particular — than the ability to deliver relevant, accessible and affordable technology to the billions of people worldwide who have not been exposed to it,” said Forrester Research Vice President and Research Director Simon Yates. “The industry can probably survive selling incrementally better hardware and software to the people who already have technology in their lives, but the vast majority of growth in the PC and related industries will come from emerging markets.”

There is unpredictability ahead, however, according to the Forrester report. Vendors are used to the predictability of buyers in mature markets, but high volume launches into emerging markets are risky. Vendors won’t have the luxury of introducing products on a small scale to test the market before going into full production because the economics will force suppliers to focus on bringing volume to market more quickly at much greater risk.

Selling PCs outside of mature markets, however, is sure to carry its own risks. For example, vendors accustomed to average life cycles of four or five years for PCs in mature markets will find that people and business in other parts of the world will keep older machines longer, Forrester said. As a result, manufacturers will have to scale production differently.

“There are risks,” said Yates. “It is safe to assume that life cycles will be longer in emerging markets. Vendors, accustomed to mature markets where the average life cycle is between four and and five years, will need to have a deep understanding of how to work in these markets and, with less of a market for replacement PCs, will need to band together to scale production for these emerging regions.”

High-tech companies that have launched programs for promoting PC use in emerging and untapped markets include Microsoft, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices. Other major vendors, however, will have to get involved in order for the PC industry to scale production enough to ship fives the number of systems at a fifth the cost.

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