BEIJING : China has overtaken the US as the world’s biggest market for personal computers, according to a market data report.  Research by the consultants IHS said PC shipments to the country rose to 69 million units in 2012. The US was the largest market up until 2011. Last year, it had orders for 66 million units. China is also the world’s biggest internet market, with more than 500 million users. Laptops are the fastest rising sector in developed markets and have overtaken PCs, but in China the sale of desktops and laptops is evenly split.

Peter Lin, senior analyst for computer platforms at IHS, said: “The equal share of shipments for desktop [PCs] and notebooks [lightweight laptops] in China is unusual, since consumers in most regions today tend to prefer more agile mobile PCs, rather than the bulky, stationary desktops.

“The relatively large percentage of desktop PC shipments in China is due to huge demand in the country’s rural areas, which account for a major segment of the country’s 1.34 billion citizens.

IHS expects Chinese demand to mirror that in developed markets by 2014, when it predicts a desktop-to-laptop PC ratio of 36-64%.

Demand for PCs in China is projected to grow by just 3-4% this year as China comes into line with others in preferring smaller devices.

The Chinese government is investing heavily in computer infrastructure, and plans to spend around 40 trillion yuan ($6.4tn; £4.2tn) building rural infrastructure in the next 10 years.