Tech Trends

Computing Devices to Remain Stagnant as Traditional PCs Slide Ever Downward

Worldwide, enthusiasm for new computing devices seems to be tapering off. According to a new report from market research firm Gartner, overall device shipments will remain flat in 2017, even as traditional PCs (including laptops) go into a decline that's forecast to last at least through 2019.

The vacuum left by traditional PCs will be filled in part by premium ultramobiles (such as the Apple MacBook Air and high-end Windows ultraportables). According to Gartner, in 2016, 50 million ultramobile premium devices shipped. In 2017, that will climb to 60 million, followed by 72 million in 2018 and 82 million in 2019.

Traditional PCs, including laptops, meanwhile, will crumble from 220 million devices in 2016 to 205 million this year, then drop down to 196 million in 2018 and 191 million in 2019.

Basic ultramobile devices (e.g. tablets, including iPad and various tablet PCs, such as those from Acer, Lenovo, Samsung and Amazon) will not fare much better than traditional PCs. In 2016, 169 million basic/utility ultramobiles shipped. That will drop to 161 million this year, then decline more slowly in 2018 and 2019 to 158 million and 157 million, respectively.

Excluding smart phones, according to Gartner's report, the overall computing device market will be in a slump at least through 2019. In 2016, 439 million units shipped. This year, that will tank to around 426 million and remain there through 2018. Then in 2019, there will be a modest rebound to 430 million units.

Smart phones, meanwhile, will see continued modest growth throughout the forecast period. According to Gartner, smart phone shipments were at 1.893 billion units in 2016. That will grow to 1.91 billion in 2017, 1.9 billion in 2018 and 1.954 billion in 2019.

All told, that translates to a flat outlook for combined devices shipments through 2019.

More information can be found on Gartner's site.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director, education for 1105 Media's Public Sector Media Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal. A 22-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).


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