More trouble for the PC market

The global PC market is expected to decline by over 8% in 2013, according to Gartner, but the tablet and mobile market is showing massive promise.

According to Gartner, global shipments in all devices expected to hit 2.32 billion units this year – an increase of 4.2% from 2012 – driven predominantly by lower-priced devices across all categories.

But while ultra-portable PCs, tablets and mobile devices are set to continue their upward trend, traditional PCs are expected to continue losing out, with Gartner predicting a further 7.1% sink in shipments in 2014.

The entire PC market – including ultra-portable PCs – is expected to decline by 8.4% in 2013, while the research firm anticipates the market to be flat in 2014 as ultra-portables balance out the loss in shipments of traditional PCs.

In contrast to the PC market, the biggest growth will be seen tablet shipments, Gartner said, with an expected 42.7% increase in shipments this year, reaching 184 million units.

“While consumers will be bombarded with ads for the new [ultra-portable] devices, we expect their attention to be grabbed but not necessarily their money,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

“Continuing on the trend we saw last year, we expect this holiday season to be all about smaller tablets as even the long-term holiday favourite — the smartphone — loses its appeal.

Worldwide device shipments (thousands of units)

Device 2012 2013 2014
Traditional PC 341,273 303,100 281,568
Ultra-portable PC 9,787 18,598 39,896
Tablets 120,203 184,431 263,229
Mobile phones 1,746,177 1,810,304 1,905,030
Total 2,217,440 2,316,433 2,489,723

According to Gartner, the mobile phone market will continue to experience steady growth, but the opportunity for high average selling price (ASP) smartphones is now ending.

Growth is expected to come from mid-tier smartphones in mature markets and low-end Android smartphones in emerging markets.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia doesn’t have a major impact on the forecast, because Gartner already assumed that Nokia would have accounted for the vast majority of Windows Phone share throughout the forecast, with only minimal volume coming from other OEMs, such as HTC or Samsung, the firm said.

Looking at operating systems, Gartner expects Google’s Android platform to continue to dominate by a massive margin, breaking through the 1 billion devices mark sometime in 2014.

While top technology providers see wearable devices as an important market opportunity, Gartner expects that wearable devices will primarily remain a companion to mobile phones.

“Less than 1% of consumers will actually replace their mobile phones with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet by 2017,” Gartner said.

“In the short term, we expect consumers to look at wearables as nice to have rather than a ‘must have,’ leaving smartphones to play the role of our faithful companion throughout the day.”

Worldwide device shipments by operating system (thousands of units)

Operating System
2012 2013 2014
Android 505,509 879,910 1,115,289
Windows 346,468 331,559 363,803
iOS/MacOS 212,875 271,949 338,106
BlackBerry 34,584 23,103 19,297
Others 1,118,004 809,912 653,228
Total 2,217,440 2,316,433 2,489,723

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More trouble for the PC market