Personal computer use worldwide is expected to reach one billion by the end of 2008 and hit two billion in 2015, a market research company said Monday.

Forrester Research released a report predicting an average annual growth rate of more than 12 per cent per year between 2003 and 2015, crediting the rapid growthto advances in technology, lower prices and global demand.

Althoughit will take the world 25 years to reach one billion PCs, Forrester said it will only take another seven years to reach the next billion, with much of the growth coming from rapidly developing markets in China, India, Brazil and Russia.

The report, entitled Worldwide PC Adoption Forecast, 2007 to 2015, predicts those four countries will account for more than 775 million new PCs by 2015.

"The industry can probably survive selling incrementally better hardware and software to the people who already have technology in their lives, but the vast majority of growth in the PC and related industries will come from emerging markets," said Forrester Research vice-president and research director Simon Yates in a statement.

The report is consistent with a report Yates authored three years ago in which he called for worldwide PC sales to reach 1.3 billion by 2010.

Yates cautioned, however, that emerging markets are more volatile than established ones and that launching products in high volumes — while necessary to have an impact — is also risky.

Yates also singled out efforts to reach people in developing nations such as the One Laptop Per Child, Microsoft Unlimited Potential, AMD 50x15 and Intel World Ahead programs, and he said other vendors must work on similar efforts toreducethe cost of computers in order to reach these regions.

In 2004, the UN estimated that around one billion people worldwide, or roughly 20 per cent of the world population, still lack connection to any kind of information and communication technology.