London, June 24 : A research firm has revealed that the number of personal computers being used across the world has passed the one billion mark.
Gartner Inc. says that markets in Western Europe and the US account for 58 per cent of the first billion installed PCs.
The firm, however, adds that such markets will account for only about 30 per cent of the next billion.
The rise in the use of computers is being driven by Indian and Brazilian markets, says the firm.
In it report, Gartner reckons that the number of PCs may double to two billion by 2014, thanks to both continually falling prices, and the perception that computers are indispensable for economic advancement.
The rapid growth in the number of new PCs also means fast-growing number of obsolete computers.
According to the firm, over 180 million computers are expected to be replaced this year.
While some computers will be sold on or recycled, large numbers will simply be buried.
"Some 35 million PCs will be dumped into landfill with little or no regard for their toxic content. It will become an even more pressing issue, especially in emerging markets, as the number of retired PCs grows with the continuing expansion of the PC installed base," New Scientist magazine quoted Gartner analyst Meike Escherich as saying.
The firm's report highlights the fact that 70 per cent of the world's discarded phones and computers are exported to China.
It also reveals that fact that earlier this year, dust in areas near Chinese e-waste recycling centres was shown to raise levels of lead, with some school grounds harbouring levels that would be illegal in Western countries.