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Device shipments growing in 2015, despite PC impact

Gartner has revised its prediction for worldwide device shipments for the year downwards, as local currency devaluations in some markets dramatically affect sales.

The analyst firm now expects worldwide shipments of devices – a catchall that covers PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones – to reach 2.5 billion units this year. While that is a 1.5% increase over 2014 figures, it is down on the previous quarter’s forecast of 2.8% growth for the year.

Gartner says end-user spending will total US$606 billion and, for the first time since 2010, will show a 5.7% decline in current US dollars.

PCs continue downward spiral, ultramobiles up

Gartner’s Forecast: PCs, Ultramobile and Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 2012-2019 2Q Update, shows traditional PCs – deskbased and notebook – are one of the most heavily hit categories, dropping from 277 million shipments in 2014 to an expected 251 million shipments this year.

And it’s a figure that doesn’t get better: Gartner is predicting 243 million shipments in 2016 and 233 million in 2017.

The much smaller premium ultramobile market meanwhile, is predicted to see growth – up from 37 million in 2014 to 49 million in 2015, with the growth continuing out to 2017 where Gartner is predicting 89 million shipments.

Gartner counts premium ultramobiles as devices such as Microsoft Windows 8 Intel x86 products and Apple’s Macbook Air.

While the end of Windows XP migration negatively affected the PC market during the first half of 2015, Gartner says the greater impact remains currency depreciation against the dollar.

“PC vendors are increasingly reducing their inventory levels – by at least 5% until the end of 2015 – as a way to minimise pricing exposure in the channel,” Gartner says.

The global PC shipment market – which includes both the traditional PC and premium ultramobile categories – is expected to total 300 million units in 2015, a decline of 4.5% year on year.

Ranjit Atwal, Gartner research director, says the global PC market isn’t expected to recover until 2016.

“The release of Windows 10 on 29 July will contribute to a slowing professional demand for mobile PCs and premium ultramobiles in 2015, as lifetimes extend by three months.

“However, as suppliers and buyers adjust to new prices, Windows 10 could boost replacements during 2016,” Atwal adds.

Tablet woes

The tablet and clamshell ultramobiles  segments also won’t fare so well this year, with Gartner predicting a contraction from 226 million shipments in 2014 to 214 this year. However, that drop is a blip in their overall path, with 228 million shipments predicted for 2016, and 244 million predicted for 2017.

Tablets are expected to account for 207 million units of the 214 million shipments in the category this year, a decline of 5.9% from 2014, with fewer new buyers, extended life cycles and little innovation to encourage new purchases.

Roberta Cozza, Gartner research director, says at the sametime, the smartwatch is not compelling enough for the average user ‘and the impact of these wearables on tablet purchases remains neglibible’.

“The tablet has become a ‘nice to have’ device, and there is no real need for an upgrade as regularly as for the phone,” Cozza says.

Users are also relying more on their smartphones as functionality increases and screen size standardises at 5-inches, Gartner notes.

Those changes have seen Gartner extend the average lifetime of the tablet to three years by 2016.

“We also expect the tablet market to reach a penetration close to 50% of households in mature markets by 2016,” Cozza adds.

Gartner includes iPad, iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, Nexus 7 and Acer Tab 8 in the tablet and clamshell ultramobile category.

Mobile phone market growing

The mobile phone market continues to grow, with 1940 million devices predicted to ship this year, up from last year’s 1879 million, though that’s a slowing growth rate of 3.3%.

 By 2017, Gartner is predicting 2062 million mobile phone shipments.

Annette Zimmermann, Gartner research director, says the global market has been affected by weaker performance in China.

“Vendors looking to grow their performance in the global smartphone market will be challenged to quickly enhance their expansion into emerging markets outside of China, where we still witness a sizeable share of feature phones and an opportunity for double-digit smartphone growth,” Zimmermann says.

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