SAN FRANCISCO — Shipments of PCs will return to growth — albeit tepid growth — in 2018 after six consecutive years of declines, according to the latest forecast from market research firm Gartner.
According to the forecast, shipments of business PCs will return to growth by the end of this year, driven by faster upgrades to Windows 10 in many regions, especially in Western Europe. This growth is expected to continue in 2018. The result is a forecast calling for global PC shipments to rise by a scant 0.8 percent next year — growth that a decade ago would have been considered cause for major concern but would be welcomed in today's climate.
"Despite the fact that prices have been rising due to higher component costs, Windows 10 replacements have kept the PC market relatively stable through 2017," said Ranjit Atwal, a research director at Gartner, in a press statement.
Slight growth in PC shipments next year is also expected to help the overall electronic device market — including PCs, tablets and smartphones — to increase shipments by about 2 percent next year, according to Gartner.
Gartner predicts that PC sales in 2018 will get a further boost from improvement in the Russian economy, driving more sales there, and efforts by Microsoft to develop along with a Chinese government agency a version of Windows 10 approved for China.
"The features of Windows 10 could be particularly useful for the Chinese Government that is looking to move from desktops and notebooks to ultramobile premium devices," Atwal said.
Meanwhile, after a minimal decrease expected this year, shipments of mobile phones are expected to return to growth in 2018, with shipment totals reaching 1.94 billion units, Gartner said. The firm expects about 1.88 billion mobile phones to ship this year.
Gartner projects that smartphones will represent about 86 percent of total mobile phone shipments next year, up 6 percent from this year. The firm said that component shorta
ges could leave OEMs unable to meet smartphone demand in the fourth quarter of this year.
Roberta Cozza, also a research director at Gartner, said a weaker lower end of the smartphone market is also contributing to a decrease in the overall mobile phone market this year.
"For this segment, local vendors continue to struggle against the shift toward top brands, while component price increases affect the ability of some Android vendors to compete more aggressively on price," Cozza said.
Despite it's nearly $1,000 retail price, strength of Apple's iPhone X is expected to drive sales of smartphones in North America,China and Western Europe in 2018, Gartner said.
"Given the late November availability of the iPhone X, we expect the iPhone's replacement cycle to flow more strongly into 2018," Cozza said.
— Dylan McGrath is editor in chief of EE Times.
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