In 2007, sales of personal computers to the Asia-Pacific region topped sales in the United States for the first time ever. According to statistics compiled by Gartner Inc., for the entire year Asia-Pacific shipments totaled 70.7 million units, while only 64.2 million PCs were sold in the United States. The trend continued in the first quarter of 2008, with 19.1 million PCS sold to Asia, and 15.2 million sold in the U.S.
As defined by Gartner, the Asia-Pacific region does not include Japan, but encompasses both China and India. So on a per capita basis the U.S. is still doing quite well, comparatively. But the trend line is significant. First, the data prove that a growing percentage of all of those semiconductors exported to China by Intel do not ultimately end up in computers that are shipped back to the U.S. The relentless focus on global markets by U.S. corporations isn't motivated solely by the cost-savings from outsourcing and offshoring -- there's plenty of money to be made selling real products, too.
Second, if, as noted earlier today, the future productivity increases necessary to keep the global economy growing healthily and enable humanity to avoid Malthusian disaster will be a function of increased knowledge, then we can probably expect a growing proportion of life-saving technological innovation to come from all those new computer users in Asia.