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Report: Device Shipments to See Largest Growth Since 2015

Global sales of computing devices, which includes PCs, tablets and smartphones, will top 2.35 billion units next year, according to a new report from market research firm Gartner.

Despite a common misconception that the world runs on smartphones instead of PCs, a recent online end-user survey conducted by Gartner suggests that people rely on more traditional computers as much as they do phones.

"Forty percent of respondents said that they use mostly a PC/tablet for certain daily experiences, such as reading and writing detailed emails or watching videos, while 34 percent mostly use a smartphone for its convenience while on the move," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement.

Nevertheless, Gartner predicts that shipments of traditional PCs will be down 4.4 percent in 2018 compared to this year, while smartphone sales will be up 2.4 percent.

"Users holding onto their PCs for longer remains a major issue for the PC market," added Atwal. "In contrast, users continue to replace their smartphone quite frequently." 

In hard numbers, that decline is a fall from 204 million shipments this year to 195 million in 2018. That fall will continue through 2019, according to the forecast, when PC shipments will drop to 188 million.

Premium ultramobile PCs, on the other hand, will see shipments increase from 59 million this year to 70 million next and 81 million in 2019.

Taken together, traditional PCs and premium ultramobiles comprise the PC market, which will return to positive growth by the end of this year, according to Gartner.

"This upward trend is assisted by two factors," according to a news release. "The PC market in Russia has been positively influenced by an upturn in the country's economic prospects, which has seen business spending on PCs increase by 5 percent in 2017. This growth will persist into 2018. Spending is primarily focused on desktop PCs, which are more aggressively priced than mobile PCs or hybrid devices."

Slow sales of PCs in China related to privacy and security concerns around Windows 10 has also contributed to lower PC sales in 2017, though Microsoft is working with the government there to produce an approved version of the operating system.

Basic and utility ultramobiles will remain relatively steady, notching 162 million sales in 2017, 161 million in 2018 and 160 million in 2019.

Mobile phone sales will grow from 1.882 billion this year to 1.926 billion next year and 1.932 billion in 2018, if the company's forecast holds true.

"Given the late November availability of the iPhone X, we expect the iPhone's replacement cycle to flow more strongly into 2018," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, in a news release.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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