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Smartphones to Lead Device Shipments to 2.32 Billion This Year

Device shipments will continue to grow in 2018, climbing 2.1 percent for a total of 2.32 billion, according to a new forecast from market research company Gartner.

Mobile phones, particularly high-end smartphones, will lead the segment, which comprises PCs and tablets in addition to mobile phones, and premium ultramobile devices, which include "thin and light Apple and Microsoft Windows 10 devices," according to Gartner, will also help to push growth.

The PC segment of the market will be mostly stagnant, with sales of traditional PCs declining 5.4 percent compared to last year, falling from 204 million to 193 million. Within the category, notebooks will see the steepest decline, falling 6.8 percent from 2017 to 2018. Growth in premium ultramobiles will pick up the slack, improving from 59 million units sold in 2017 to a projected 70 million units this year and 80 million units in 2019. Altogether, PC sales will grow from 262 million last year to 264 million this year and 267 million in 2019 if the forecast holds true.

Basic and utility ultramobile devices will also remain relatively stagnant with a slight downward trend, falling from 160 million shipments in 2017 to 159 million shipments this year and 156 million sales in 2019.

Mobile phone shipments will grow 2.6 percent from the 1.86 billion sales recorded in 2017 to 1.9 billion sales this year and 1.92 billion in 2019. Smartphones alone will grow 6.2 percent from last year to this, and will account for nearly nine in 10 — 87 percent — of all mobile phones sold in 2018.

"In 2018, smartphone vendors will focus on delivering more compelling personalized experiences, via on-device AI, virtual personal assistants and more natural user interfaces, but also through biometrics and further enhancements to display and camera features," according to a news release.

Gartner also predicts that 5G phones will begin rolling out in 2019, when 5G networks in some countries, including the United States and South Korea, will begin operating and that by 2021 9 percent of all smartphones sold will have 5G capabilities.

"Consumers have many technologies to choose from, which poses two main challenges for vendors. The first is to compete for wallet share, given how many devices consumers own. The second is to deliver value and maintain relevance — to offer the right device to the right audience," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "We will see more buyers focusing on value, rather than just price, and therefore considering higher-priced devices." 

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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