SAN FRANCISCO—Combined shipments of PCs, mobile handsets and tablets—the drivers of much of the electronics supply chain over the past few years—are projected to remain flat in 2017, according to market research firm Gartner Inc.
Combined shipments of such devices are forecast to be 2.3 billion in 2017, roughly the same as the estimated total for 2016, Gartner said this week.
Ranjit Atwal, Gartner
"The global devices market is stagnating,” said Ranjit Atwal, a research director at Gartner, in a statement. “Mobile phone shipments are only growing in emerging Asia/Pacific markets, and the PC market is just reaching the bottom of its decline."
Indeed, Gartner is projecting that PC shipments will decline in 2017 for a sixth consecutive year. The firm predicts that PC shipments will return to growth in 2018 thanks to an expected replacement cycle and the allure of premium ultramobile models.
Gartner estimates that there were some 7 billion phones, tablets and PCs in the world by the end of 2016. The market research firm forecasts a small increase in 2018 for shipments of mobile handsets and ultramobiles—a category that includes tablets, thin and lightweight PCs and so-called convertibles.
According to Atwal, not only has shipment growth of these devices stagnated, but so have average selling prices due to market saturation and a slower rate of innovation.
"Consumers have fewer reasons to upgrade or buy traditional devices,” Atwal said. “They are seeking fresher experiences and applications in emerging categories such as head mounted displays (HMDs), virtual personal assistant (VPA) speakers and wearables."
The long-anticipated return to growth for PCs in 2018 will be driven by attractive pricing on top-line ultramobiles with premium features, Gartner said. While these devices will see growth, traditional PC sales are forecast to continue declining, Gartner said.
The Ultramobile (Premium) category includes devices such as Microsoft Windows 10 Intel x86 products and Apple MacBook Air. The Ultramobile (Basic and Utility Tablets) category includes devices such as Apple iPad and iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, Amazon Fire HD, Lenovo Yoga Tab 3, and Acer Iconia One. Source: Gartner Inc.
The mobile handset market will also benefit from a replacement cycle in 2018. But there is a difference in activity expected between mature and emerging markets, according to Gartner.
"People in emerging markets still see smartphones as their main computing device and replace them more regularly than mature markets," Atwal said.
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry and business news for EE Times.