Emerging Markets Could Become Dumping Grounds for Secondary PCs

Have you ever wondered where the old PCs go to after a company decided to upgrade their corporate PCs? I only have two guesses – it’s either they give it to their employees or they donate it to schools or institutions.

And given the speed on how faster computers are being made, old PCs may not be that old as everyone thinks. What I am saying is it may be slow to companies, but it surely is fast to students and / or institutions who would simply use it for word processing or for presentation purposes perhaps.
But according to Gartner, demand for secondary PCs will outstrip supply for years to come, but reuse does not necessarily mean "greener" IT because growing exports for reuse or recycling are leading to increasing e-waste in emerging markets.

In 2008, 37 million secondary PCs were refurbished and exported to emerging markets, and Gartner predicts that this number will rise to 69 million by 2012. A secondary PC is one that is repurposed after its primary use (as a new PC) has ended. Secondary PCs must have been used in the installed base for more than 120 days to be considered secondary use.

Gartner found that the demand for secondary PCs has increased as the global recession has tightened its grip. As product life cycles lengthen, demand for secondhand PCs is outstripping supply. Even when the markets recover, shortages of used PCs will continue as large volumes, especially of notebooks, will be too old to have a useful second life span.

These secondary PCs will eventually need to be disposed of. In 2007, nearly 68 million secondary PCs had to be discarded worldwide. In emerging countries, approximately 15 million secondary PCs had to be discarded in 2007. Gartner estimates that by 2012, emerging countries will need to dispose of a total of 30 million secondary PCs annually.

With all due respect, I am not sure if Gartner considered that with the ongoing trends, PCs are becoming more affordable and Web 2.0 is here or perhaps even Web 3.0 will be here by 2012. By that time, emerging markets may no longer need these secondary PCs anymore and would opt to go with the affordable new PCs. So affordable that they won't even think about their software since most of them will be available on the web.

Too early to tell really, three years in technology is considered eternity.


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