Personal computers (PC) are small and relatively inexpensive devices, intended for individual usage. Before the PC, computers were much larger and designed solely for use by - and only affordable to - larger companies. By the late 1980s, technological advances made it possible to build much smaller computers that could be owned and operated by single end-users with only a general knowledge of computing. These general-purpose computers at a size, capability, and price that made them feasible for individual use are what we now referred to as PCs.
The global market for personal computers has been experiencing a decrease in growth in recent years, with spending projected to drop by as much as a 44 percent in 2016 from 2015 levels. In contrast, the U.S. PC market has continued to remain relatively stable in terms of the number of units shipped. Imports of computers and computer accessories to the U.S. amounted to about 120 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. This is at a time when the projected forecast for worldwide spending on PCs continues on a steady decline. Hewlett Packard Inc (HP Inc) holds the top market share of personal computer shipments in the United States, responsibly for shipping 28 percent of total shipments in 2015. Other major PC vendors in the U.S. include Dell, Apple, and Toshiba.
While the term PC is usually used to refer to a multi-component desktop computer, designed for use in a fixed location, or a laptop computer, designed for easy portability, recently the market for computers has been shifting towards to the use of smartphones and tablets. The rate at which sales of tablets are replacing that of PCs is forecast to jump from around one percent per year in 2009 to as much as 54 percent per year in 2020. In the United States, the number of tablet users is forecast to reach about 185 million by 2020.
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