For the first time China has surpassed the United States in terms of total PC shipments during the second quarter of 2011. The final results from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker show that 18.5 million PCs were sold in China during the last quarter, overtaking the U.S. market where approximately 17.7 million units were sold in the same period.

China accounted for 22% of the PCs sold worldwide, with an impressive 14 percent quarter on quarter growth. The opposite happened in the U.S. where PC sales fell 4.2 percent in part due to the weak economy.

According to projections ran by the IDC, they don't expect China to overtake the U.S. in annual sales this year due to back to school shopping and holiday sales that will likely boost U.S. sales figures. The switch is expected to take place as soon as 2012 when the difference will become far wider between the two countries. The forecast indicates that a staggering 85.2 million PCs will be sold in China next year versus 76.6 million units in the U.S.

"China's lead in the PC market is a huge shift that reflects the rising fortunes of emerging markets as well as the relative stagnation of more mature regions," said Loren Loverde, Program Vice President, Worldwide PC Tracker. "While the immediate economic circumstances in the US and other markets had a significant impact on the timing of China's move to the lead, they have not changed the trend, but accelerated it."

Although this trend had become clear a long time ago, the timing of the report coincides with HP's announcement about leaving the PC market, further reminding us of Lenovo's acquisition of IBM's PC Division in 2005. The investment is paying dividends as the Chinese manufacturer recently surpassed Acer to become the third-largest PC maker with 12% market share worldwide.

IDC's PC Tracker counts as PCs all desktops, laptops and netbooks sold. It doesn't account for smartphones, servers, or tablets like the Apple iPad.