Ultramobile Devices like the iPad Pro are seen as the only shining light in Worldwide Device Shipments out to 2020
According to a new Gartner report, worldwide shipments of devices — PCs, tablets and mobile phones — are on pace to record 0.9 percent growth to reach 2.28 billion units in 2018. The PC and tablet market is estimated to decline 1.2 percent in 2018, while the mobile phone market is on pace to record an increase of 1.4 percent.
"The PC market is still hindered by the undersupply of the DRAM market for all of 2018, due to the lack of new wafer capacity coming online. As a result, PC vendors will continue to increase their prices throughout 2018," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "Larger screens and more graphic boards also mean rising costs, adding to the bill of hardware materials for businesses and household buyers."
While the PC market is price-sensitive, Gartner is witnessing business demand migrating to high-end PCs such as ultramobile premium devices, where value is seen as higher. Gartner estimates shipments of ultramobile premium units to increase by 12 percent in 2018 (see Table 1).
Gartner's IT Glossary describes ultramobiles as a category of midsize lightweight computing devices, which includes tablets, thin and lightweight PCs and convertibles or 2-in-1's such as the iPad Pro and Surface Pro type devices. These devices typically have a display size between 7 inches and 13.9 inches and typically weight under 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg).
While the global device market is affected by macro-economic factors and technology developments, it can also be influenced by the Chinese device market alone. "China accounts for over 20 percent of global spending on devices, so any changes occurring there can have a significant ripple effect globally," said Mr. Atwal.
With nearly 1.9 billion units to be shipped in 2018, mobile phones are the main influencer of the global device market growth. In China, mobile phone sales declined 8.7 percent in 2017 to 428 million units, but are estimated to grow 3.3 percent in 2018, representing 23 percent of total mobile phone sales this year.
The traditional PC market in China is on pace to decline 1.7 percent to 38.5 million shipments in 2018, representing 21 percent of global traditional PC shipments. The drop will come despite China being business-dependent, with two-thirds of PC shipments coming from this segment.
"The downward trend that China is experiencing is undoubtedly affecting the worldwide device market," said Mr. Atwal. "China is an interesting country to watch this year. The continued roll-out of a Chinese version of Windows 10 in the second half of 2018 as well as Apple iPhone's replacement cycle expected through 2019 will generate demand."
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