How Many Computers Are There in the World?

As of October 2014, there were nearly 2 billion personal computers used worldwide. By comparison, the 1 billionth personal computer was shipped in 2002, although 1 billion computers were in use in 2008. Several research groups believe the 2-billion mark of PC usage will occur sometime in 2015 or 2016. Tablet computers and mobile devices are gradually gaining on PC usage.

The difference between PCs in use and PCs shipped are due to several factors. Older computers get removed from service when companies and individuals buy newer models. Computers shipped from manufacturers are not necessarily sold at retailers. Personal computers are being replaced by smaller, faster models.

During 2013, more than 134.4 million PC units were shipped in the United States. In the third quarter of 2014, more than 78.5 million units were shipped from manufacturers, a decline of 1.4 percent from the third quarter of 2013. Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer and Apple are the five largest personal computer manufacturers in the world, as of October 2014.

Predicted sales of desktop PCs will drop to just 5 percent of the market by 2017, with smartphones taking more than 70 percent of the market. More than 1.01 billion smartphone units, 227.3 million tablet computers and 180.9 portable PCs were shipped in 2013, all numbers that exceed desktop PC shipments in the same year.