Mobile Device Sales To Increase While PC Sales Fall
April 4, 2013

Tablets And Smartphones To Dominate PCs By 2015

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

Shipments of devices will continue to increase over the next few years, according to a report from Gartner, but the mix of devices will start to lean toward tablets and mobile phones. Desk-based PCs and notebook shipments will decline in that time.

The forecast states worldwide devices, such as PCs, tablets and mobile phones, will total 2.4 billion units shipped in 2013. That's a nine percent increase over 2012. Device shipments are forecast to continue to increase to more than 2.9 billion units by 2017.

Tablets are becoming a more viable option. The prices are coming down, but the technology and capabilities are increasing.

"While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, in a company statement about the forecast. "As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis."

A slower replacement cycle, or even a cycle where traditional PCs are replaced by other devices including tablets, will cause a decline of 7.6 percent in 2013. Gartner reports 341 million desk-based and notebook PCs were shipped in 2012. Those shipments are forecast to go down each year. Gartner expects the category to go down to 315.2 million units this year; 302.3 million units in 2014; and by 2017, shipments are expected to shrink to 271.6 million.

Ultramobile, a sub-notebook category, is expected to see growth over the next few years, but still remain a small category. Shipments will double from 9.8 million units shipped in 2012 to 23.6 million this year and reach 96.3 million units by 2017.

Real growth is seen in the tablet market, which is expected to more than double by 2017. In 2012 the category shipped 116.1 million units, which will increase to 197.2 million this year. Next year tablets are expected to reach 265.7 million units shipped, and continue to grow to 468 million units by 2017.

"Lower prices, form factor variety, cloud update and consumers' addiction to apps will be the key drivers in the tablet market," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, in a company statement. "Growth in the tablet segment will not be limited to mature markets alone. Users in emerging markets who are looking for a companion to their mobile phone will increasingly choose a tablet as their first computing device and not a PC."

The mobile phone category, which includes smartphones like the iPhone and Android-based phones, eclipses all other categories. Worldwide mobile phone shipments are expected to approach 3 billion by 2017. In 2013, the market is expected to include 1.9 billion units

Broken down by operating system, Android is, and will continue to be, the most-used OS with 861 million units shipped this year, which will increase to 1.5 billion by 2017. Windows trails behind with 354 million in 2013, and increasing to 571 million by 2017. Devices on the Windows operating system include desktop and notebook PCs, tablets and smartphones. Devices running iOS and MacOS, which includes MacBooks, iPads, iPhones and other devices in Apple's family, will reach 293 million units shipped in 2013, and grow to 504 million by 2017.

BlackBerry, which released a new operating system and a new generation of phones in January, is forecast to decline over the next few years. In 2012 the BlackBerry OS shipped 34.7 million units, which will decline to 31.3 million in 2012; 27.2 million in 2014 and 24.1 million by 2017.

The shift toward more mobile devices will have effects not only on the consumer end, but will also affect hardware production and shipments.

"The trend towards smartphones and tablets will have much wider implications than hardware displacement," said Milanesi. "Software and chipset architecture are also impacted by this shift as consumers embrace apps and personal cloud."