Gartner predicts bad year for PCs, good year for tablets, mobiles

Gartner’s latest device shipment forecast points to another bad year ahead for traditional PCs as device market growth is again driven by tablets and mobiles

The traditional desktop and notebook PC market will see no let-up in its decline during 2014, with shipments set to fall by 7.1% to 277.9m units worldwide in the next 12 months, according to Gartner.

The headline figure in Gartner’s latest device shipment forecast – covering all form factors worldwide – showed growth of 7.6% overall, with a total of 2.5 billion PCs, notebooks, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones set to enter use this year.

However much of this growth will come from tablets, with shipments set to expand by 46.8% this year to 263.5m units, and ultramobile PC devices, which will see shipments more than double to 39.6m. Technically, this means that the total PC market will actually be flat this year.

Device shipments will be dominated by mobiles again this year, with 1.9bn units shipped, up 5% on 2013, however growth will slow as the high-end premium market begins to reach saturation point and opportunities move to mid-end and basic products, according to Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.

Atwal pointed to several key factors that will influence the device market in the coming months, noting that the traditional PC would become more of a shared content creation tool as users come to appreciate the flexibility of tablets, hybrids and ultramobiles in terms of meeting their varying demands.

It will also be the year of the mini tablet, said Atwal, who explained: “[They] will take over from the larger tablet form factors, providing the added mobility that consumers desire at a lower cost, and will compete with hybrids for consumer attention.”

Indeed, over two thirds of tablets are already used outside the home for activities such as web browsing whilst on holiday, or annoying other people at rock concerts, suggested a recent Gartner consumer poll.

In the OS market, Gartner predicted Android would breach the 1bn user mark this year, helped along by its lower cost when compared to Apple.

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