New research claims that the number of computers sold in the next five years will be almost as many as those sold in the last 30 years of the PC industry.

These are some of the findings contained within a new market research report by Computer Industry Almanac.

The researchers also point out that Apple's computer sales seem set to double, placing it firmly in line with anticipated industry growth.

Apple sold 16.2 million computers between 1991-95; 17.6 million between 1996-2000; 17.2 million between 2001-2005 and is expected to shift an impressive 33 million units between 2006-2010, the research claims.

The analysts claim that between 1975 and 2004 cumulative PC sales surpassed 1.4 billion units. In the next five years, they claim, between 2006 until 2010 (inclusive) cumulative PC sales will reach 1.3 billion units "or nearly as much as the first 30 years," they said.

They note that, "cumulative PC sales reached nearly 130 million units in 1990, over 1.6 billion in 2005 and are forecasted to top 2.9 billion in 2010."

Apple has everything to play for, as the results are based on previous performance. With the advent of Boot Camp and the move to Intel processors, Apple poses more of a threat than ever to the likes of Dell and HP, and the research shows that grabbing even a few percentage points of sales from either firm would significantly expand Apple's reach.

Dell is expected to sell 246 million computers between 2006-2010, while HP/Compaq is expected to shift 205 million PCs.