The world in figures: Industries: Information technology

The IT industry generally tracks economic growth, so prospects in 2012 are dimmer than the year before. Technology spending will rise by 6%, with an above-average increase in hardware (9%) and a below-average gain in software and services (3%).

The public sector accounts for around a fifth of direct technology purchases in America and Europe, according to Gartner, a consultancy. Governments also have a sizeable indirect impact on spending, particularly in Europe. Sweeping austerity measures in many of these countries will hurt the IT industry; Gartner reckons that public-sector technology spending in 2012 will stall in Europe and grow by only 1% in America.

One in five personal computers sold in 2012 will be in China, although India, Indonesia and Thailand will see faster growth in shipments for the year. Low PC penetration in Latin America will give scope for a 10% rise in PC sales.

Thanks to Apple’s iPad, the tablet-computer market will grow from virtually nothing in 2009 to $35bn in 2012, according to JPMorgan. Stiffer competition will erode some of Apple’s market share, but it will still account for just over half of all tablets sold and, thanks to its premium pricing, two-thirds of global tablet revenue.

To watch: iPads everywhere. Businesses in consumer-facing industries will harness the appeal of Apple’s fashionable tablet to boost sales. iPads are starting to appear as interactive menus at restaurants, virtual concierges in hotel rooms, and mobile point-of-sale terminals in small shops and markets.

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