Gartner forecasts flat worldwide device shipments until 2018

Worldwide combined shipments of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones are projected to remain flat in 2017, according to Gartner, Inc. Worldwide shipments for these devices are projected to total 2.3 billion in 2017, the same as 2016 estimates.

There were nearly 7 billion phones, tablets and PCs in use in the world by the end of 2016. However, Gartner does not expect any growth in shipments of traditional devices until 2018, when a small increase in ultramobiles and mobile phone shipments is expected (see Table 1).

“The global devices market is stagnating. Mobile phone shipments are only growing in emerging Asia/Pacific markets, and the PC market is just reaching the bottom of its decline,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

“As well as declining shipment growth for traditional devices, average selling prices are also beginning to stagnate because of market saturation and a slower rate of innovation,” added Mr. Atwal. “Consumers have fewer reasons to upgrade or buy traditional devices (see Table 1). They are seeking fresher experiences and applications in emerging categories such as head mounted displays (HMDs), virtual personal assistant (VPA) speakers and wearables.”

Table 1 
Worldwide Devices Shipments by Device Type, 2016-2019 (Millions of Units)

Device Type

2016

2017

2018

2019

Traditional PCs (Desk-Based and Notebook)

219

205

198

193

Ultramobiles (Premium)

49

61

74

85

PC Market

268

266

272

278

Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility)

168

165

166

166

Computing Devices Market

436

432

438

444

Mobile Phones

1,888

1,893

1,920

1,937

Total Devices Market

2,324

2,324

2,357

2,380

Note: The Ultramobile (Premium) category includes devices such as Microsoft Windows 10 Intel x86 products and Apple MacBook Air.
The Ultramobile (Basic and Utility Tablets) category includes devices such as Apple iPad and iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, Amazon Fire HD, Lenovo Yoga Tab 3, and Acer Iconia One.
Source: Gartner (January 2017)

The embattled PC market will benefit from a replacement cycle toward the end of this forecast period, returning to growth in 2018. Increasingly, attractive premium ultramobile prices and functionality will entice buyers as traditional PC sales continue to decline. The mobile phone market will also benefit from replacements. There is, however, a difference in replacement activity between mature and emerging markets. “People in emerging markets still see smartphones as their main computing device and replace them more regularly than mature markets,” said Mr. Atwal.

Device vendors are increasingly trying to move into faster-growing emerging device categories. “This requires a shift from a hardware-focused approach to a richer value-added service approach,” said Mr. Atwal. “As service-led approaches become even more crucial, hardware providers will have to partner with service providers, as they lack the expertise to deliver the service offerings themselves.”

More detailed analysis is available to clients in the reports “Forecast: PCs, Ultramobiles and Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 2013-2020, 4Q16 Update.”

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