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Gartner counts more than 1 billion PCs served

Penetration in developing markets will double as 2 billion PCs come into use by 2014, Gartner forecasts.

The number of personal computers in use around the world has exceeded 1 billion and will double by 2014, with most growth coming from developing markets, according to Gartner research released Monday.

A 12 percent annual increase would amount to more than 2 billion PCs in use by 2014, according to a report that counted installed machines rather than laptops and desktops sold.

Emerging markets will account for 70 percent of the next billion PCs to come online, Gartner analysts suggested. They named dropping prices and improved Internet access as factors driving that trend.

Fifty-eight percent of today's PCs are owned by U.S., European, and Japanese users, Gartner found.

This year, some 180 million computers, or 16 percent of those currently in use globally, will be retired.

"We estimate a fifth of these, or some 35 million PCs, will be dumped into landfill with little or no regard for their toxic content," Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. The challenge of disposing safely of electronics waste will also expand in developing markets in the coming years, she added.