TAIPEI Forget about 1 billion cell phones shipping this year, by the end of 2008 there will be more than 1 billion personal computers in use worldwide, and more than 2 billion by 2015, according to a new report from Forrester Research, Inc.
All the talk is about cell phones and consumer electronics, but PCs suck up much more silicon per box and remain a major driver for the chip industry.
Forrester said it took 27 years to reach the 1 billion mark, but it will take only several years to ship the next billion. Not surprisingly, much of the demand will come from developing economies like Brazil, Russia, India, and China, where more than 775 million new PCs will ship by 2015. The research firm is predicting a 12 percent compound annual growth rate between 2003 and 2015.
"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," said Forrester Vice President and Research Director Simon Yates.
The dynamics will certainly be quite different from mature markets, as some PC makers are already discovering. Dell Inc., for instance, has had to heavily rely on telemarketing in China, rather than its traditional model of Web-based sales. It is also opening up store fronts so that Chinese can get hands-on introductions to its PCs.
Other challenges will also exist, Forrester said. "There are risks," Yates said. "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 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."