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Report: Smartphone Surge Continues as PC Decline Slows

Worldwide device shipments, including mobile phones, PCs, tablets and unltramobiles, are on pace to increase 4.2 percent this year over last to reach 2.4 billion units, according to the latest forecast from market research firm Gartner.

That growth will be enabled, in part, "by a relative revival of the global PC market," according to Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. PC shipments, which include desktop, notebook and premium ultramobile devices, declined 9.5 percent in 2013, but are on pace to contract by only 2.9 percent this year, according to the company.

Traditional PCs, which include desktops and notebooks, will continue to drop more quickly, declining 6.7 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2015, according to the company.

"Business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will lessen the downward trend, especially in Western Europe," said Atwal, in a prepared statement. "This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets."

Premium ultramobiles only make up a small share of the segment, but will improve from approximately 21.5 million units in 2013 to more than 32 million this year and about 55 million next year, according to the forecast.

Mobile phones will once again represent more than three-quarters of all device shipments this year, with 1.86 billion shipments in 2014 and 2.59 billion in 2015, according to Gartner. The 66 percent market share currently controlled by smartphones will improve to 88 percent in 2018, according to a news release.

Tablet sales will also improve, from 206.8 million in 2013 to 256.3 million and 320.9 million this year and next, respectively.

"As with any devices, adoption goes through phases from the early to the late adopter; tablets are currently moving onto the latter part of that curve in mature markets," according to a news release. "Gartner estimates that sales of tablets will see a relative slowdown in 2014 to reach 256 million units, an increase of 23.9 percent from 2013. Lower demand from users for tablets with smaller screens, some in favor of larger screens, in mature markets, and the shift towards phablets in South-East Asia are slowing global tablet penetration."

"The next wave of adoption will be driven by lower price points rather than superior functionality," said Atwal, in a prepared statement.

"In the operating system (OS) market, Android and iOS are driving the growth with a 30 percent and 15 percent increase, respectively, in 2014," according to information released by the company.

Android will again be the dominant operating system in 2014, with Gartner projecting that nearly 1.2 billion devices sold this year and 1.37 billion next year featuring the operating system.

Devices powered by Windows will remain a distant second, moving approximately 333.4 million units this year and nearly 373.7 million next year.

Apple's iOS and Mac OS, in third place, will improve from just more than 236 million shipments last year to about 271 million this year and more than 301 million in 2015, according to Gartner.

"We expect the announcement of the new Apple iPhone 6 will attract pent-up demand for users who want a larger screen," said Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "Windows phones will exhibit strong growth from a low base in 2014, and are projected to reach a 10 percent market share by 2018 — up from 4 percent in 2014."

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