SAN FRANCISCO—PC shipments in China surpassed those in the U.S. in the second quarter, making China the largest PC market in the world, according to market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC).
Approximately 18.5 million PCs worth $11.9 billion shipped in China during the second quarter, compared to 17.7 million units worth $11.7 billion in the U.S., according to IDC. China represented 22 percent of the global PC market's unit shipments, while the U.S. represented 21 percent, IDC said.
China's ascendance to the No. 1 spot among PC market geographies had been widely expected to occur in 2011 or 2012. But IDC still expects the U.S. to remain the largest market on a full year basis in 2011. The firm projects that 73.5 million PCs will be shipped in the U.S. in 2011, compared to 72.4 million in China.
Holiday season buying in the U.S. is likely keep it ahead of China in the fourth quarter, especially as China's market contracts after its third quarter summer promotions, according to IDC. The firm expects China to top the U.S. in full year shipments in 2012, when it projects that 85.2 million PCs will be shipped in China, compared to 76.6 million in the U.S.
"There are of course still risks ahead for China, including not just inflation but also the impact of economic conditions in the U.S. and Europe," said Kitty Fok, vice president for Greater China research at IDC, in a statement. "But in the meantime, the Chinese government's 12th Five-Year Plan should help large enterprises in various infrastructure verticals to continue to move along, not to mention of course the ongoing efforts to increase consumer penetration in lower-tier cities."
Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC's Worldwide PC Tracker program, said China's lead in the PC market in the second quarter "is a huge shift that reflects the rising fortunes of emerging markets as well as the relative stagnation of more mature regions."
China was helped to the top spot in the second quarter by economic circumstances in the U.S. and Europe, which accelerated a trend that had experts predicting it would surpass the U.S. as the largest market for PCs, according to Loverde.