PC Market? Up Slightly, But Still Barely Breathing

3 minute read
David Roe avatar

Though it appears there will be some relief for the besieged PC market in Gartner’s second quarter predictions for 2014, the relief will be be only temporary.

Overall, the global devices market  will witness a revival in 2014, increasing by 4.2 percent over 2013.

The PC market, which falls under the devices umbrella, will contract 2. 9 percent — considerably less than last year's 9.2 percent .Thedriving force behind this trend,according to Annette Zimmerman of Gartner,is the ongoing development of the mobile market. However, the longterm direction of the PC market remains downward.

The Windows XP Effect

The new statistics are contained in Gartner’s Forecast for PCs, Ultramobiles and Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 2011-2018, 2Q14. Gartner predicts that the worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultra-mobiles and mobile phones) will reach 2.4 billion units in 2014.

However, though a contraction of only 2.9 percent may be a relief to PC makers,  it is an illusion. Zimmerman told CMSWire the move from Windows XP to more recent operating systems is helping the market, temporarily. But there is nothing on the horizon that will arrest the longterm decline. In fact, after 2015 she says the decline in PCs is likely to continue unabated:

Our forecast for the later forecast years (after 2015) still shows a declining market year on year. So the current slight upward trend is rather temporary due to Windows XP upgrades and desktop replacements.Users with a traditional notebook are likely to upgrade with an Ultra-mobile in the next 12-24 months and as prices come down we will see this accelerate and that is why the traditional notebook market is declining more quickly than the desktop market."

Shealso said Gartner's contacts with enterprises indicates that there is an opportunity for desktops in the next two years as work requirements in some areas remain the same and desktop upgrades will be needed following depressed spending during the economic crisis. Gartner is predicting that nearly 60 million professional  PC replacements in mature markets, especially in Western Europe.

Enterprises are still using tablets and notebooks as add-ons for the mobile workforce and not as replacement systems for PCs.

2014-7-09 Gartner Device Shipments Q2.jpg

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Smartphones Dominate

There are other notable trends in the market that reflect the growing mobility of workforces. Gartner said the sales of tablets has been so strong in the past few years that is now likely to decline.

Like any devices, Gartner says,  technology adoption goes through phases that run from early adopter to late adopter and that the tablet market is currently moving in the final part of the curve, which will result in a slowdown in tablet sales.

2014-07-09 Gartner operating systems.jpg

This year, Gartner estimates that sales of tablets will see a relative slowdown in 2014 to reach 256 million units, but still an increase of 23.9 percent on 2013.The next phase of adoption in the tablet market will be driven by lower price points making them accessible to consumers in developing markets.

Sales of mobile phone will also experience growth with 1.9 billion unit likely to be shipped year, up 3.1 percent while sales so smartphones will outstrip everything else and will make up 88 percent of annual sales by 2018.

In the operating system (OS) market, Android and iOS are driving the growth with a 30 percent and 15 percent increase, respectively, in 2014 (see Table 2). However, the much-anticipated release of iPhone 6 is like to create new demand here and could impact on the overall figures.

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