PC market to return to growth in 2018: Gartner

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 10 July, 2017

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The global PC market is on track to continue its decline in 2017 in terms of unit shipments, but start to return to growth from 2018 driven by Windows 10 replacement purchasing, Gartner projects.

Total worldwide PC device shipments are set to fall to 262 million in 2017, down from 270 million the previous year.

But shipments are projected to pick up to 267 million in 2018 and grow to 272 million in 2019. Gartner Research Director Ranjit Atwal added that this year's PC market decline is slower than it has been in recent years.

"PC buyers continue to put quality and functionality ahead of price," he said. "Many organisations are coming to the end of their evaluation periods for Windows 10 and are now increasing the speed at which they adopt new PCs as they see the clear benefits of better security and newer hardware."

Total device shipments — comprising desktop, notebook and ultramobile PCs, tablets and mobile phones — are projected to fall 0.3% from 2016 but return to a 1.6% growth in 2018.

"Overall, the shipment growth of the device market is steady for the first time in many years. PC shipments are slightly lower while phone shipments are slightly higher — leading to a slight downward revision in shipments from the previous forecast," Atwal said.

Smartphone shipments are on track to grow 5% this year to nearly 1.6 billion units, and spending is continuing to shift from low-cost utility handsets towards higher priced smartphones.

But users are continuing to extend their purchasing cycles and will need to be enticed to make a replacement purchase.

Vendors are exploring ways to add new capabilities to allow their devices to stand out in the market, with adoption of technologies including AI and virtual personal assistants (VPAs) projected to grow in adoption in the near future, but Atwal said these technologies are currently too primitive to serve as a major competitive differentiator.

"Today, the user experience with new technologies such as AI and VPAs is too often below the standard found in the rest of the device, and the cost to raise the standard quickly is prohibitive, relative to the benefits," he said.

"In the near term, the device market will continue to be driven by incremental advances in traditional technology but, looking three or four years ahead, the device market will begin to see very significant shifts in both usage patterns and form factors, especially as 5G wireless technology is introduced."

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