Home Industry Market Global device shipments to reach 2.4 billion this year
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The traditional PC market continues to decline as changes in consumers behaviour drive the transition to tablets and ultramobiles.

Worldwide devices (the combined shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones) are on pace to total 2.4 billion units in 2013, a 9% increase from 2012, according to analyst group Gartner.

Gartner expects device shipments to continue to grow, reaching more than 2.9 billion units in 2017, but the mix of these devices will significantly change over the forecast period. The proliferation of lower-priced tablets and their growing capability is accelerating the shift from PCs to tablets.

"While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

"As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis."

As a result, the traditional PC market of notebooks and desk-based units is expected to decline 7.6% in 2013). This is not a temporary trend induced by a more austere economic environment; it is a reflection of a long-term change in user behaviour.

Beginning in 2013, ultramobiles will help offset this decline, so that sales of traditional PCs and ultramobiles combined show a 3.5% decline in 2013.

 

Worldwide Devices Shipments by Segment (Thousands of Units)

 

Device Type

2012

2013

2014

2017

PC (Desk-Based and Notebook)

341,263

315,229

302,315

271,612

Ultramobile

9,822

23,592

38,687

96,350

Tablet

116,113

197,202

265,731

467,951

Mobile Phone

1,746,176

1,875,774

1,949,722

2,128,871

Total

2,213,373

2,411,796

2,556,455

2,964,783

 

Worldwide tablet shipments are forecast to total 197 million units in 2013, a 69.8% increase from 2012 shipments of 116 million units. "Lower prices, form factor variety, cloud update and consumers' addiction to apps will be the key drivers in the tablet market," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

"Growth in the tablet segment will not be limited to mature markets alone. Users in emerging markets who are looking for a companion to their mobile phone will increasingly choose a tablet as their first computing device and not a PC."

Tablets are not the only device type that is seeing aggressive price erosion. Smartphones are also becoming more affordable, driving adoption in emerging markets and the prepay segment in mature markets. Of the 1.875 billion mobile phones to be sold in 2013, 1 billion units will be smartphones, compared with 675 million units in 2012.

"The trend towards smartphones and tablets will have much wider implications than hardware displacement," said Milanesi. "Software and chipset architecture are also impacted by this shift as consumers embrace apps and personal cloud."

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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