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China set to surpass U.S. in PC purchases

Patrick Thibodeau | April 19, 2011
Microsoft tells Congress of shift, saying that more than 95 per cent of PCs in China run Windows but that piracy is a big problem.

Hill doesn't see a Chinese operating system that can replace Windows at this point, but that's probably because the emphasis in China has been on mobile. He points to Chinese Web service company Baidu's interest in developing a mobile OS as one sign of this interest.

Much of U.S. manufacturing of PCs is now done in China. Dell has major operations in the country, as does Hewlett-Packard. IBM sold its PC division to a Chinese company, Lenovo, in 2005.

The shift in manufacturing raises questions about whether the U.S. will continue to lead in the development of hardware and software.

Robert G. Vambery, a professor of marketing and international business at Pace University, sees China being at the forefront of development in the next decade or two.

"Chinese scientists and engineers have been and continue to be trained in the most advanced aspects of the field at U.S. universities as well as research and development centers," Vambery said. To fill midlevel engineering and production control management needs, China has been training up to five times as many engineers as the U.S. does and continues to do so, he said.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at the Enderle Group, called China's ascension in PC shipments "significant" but said it is "only one of a number of trends suggesting China is replacing the U.S. as the top world power."


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