PC ‘Revival’ In 2014, As Tablet Growth Slows – Gartner

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The PC market is set for a welcomed revival during the year, according to latest analyst figures

The advent of a new analyst report tracking the fortunes (or misfortunes) of the PC market has made for grim reading in the last few years. But recently a sense of optimism has returned to the industry, and this optimism should continue for a little while longer, at least according to a new report from Gartner.

PC revival

The Gartner report reveals that the worldwide PC market will witness a modest revival in 2014 after a dire year in 2013, when PC shipments fell 9.5 percent. It says this market will only contract 2.9 percent during 2014.

Gartner predicts that in 2014, shipments of all types PCs (including desktops, notebooks and ultramobiles) will reach 308m, down from 317m in 2013. In 2015, total global shipments are forecast to reach 316m.

Windows 8.1 Update start screenIn general, things are looking much better for the tech industry then than this time last year. When tablets and mobiles are factored in, things look even better. Gartner said that worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are projected to reach 2.4 billion units in 2014, a 4.2 percent increase from 2013.

“2014 will be marked by a relative revival of the global PC market,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

So what is driving the apparent and welcome revival in the PC industry? Well it seems thatn the Windows XP replacement cycle is kicking in, with companies finally replacing their old machines running the ancient operating system. Perhaps Windows 8 is not so bad after all?

“Business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will lessen the downward trend, especially in Western Europe,” said Atwal. “This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets.”

Gartner said that the traditional PC market (desktop and notebook) will follow the same downward trend and is on pace to contract 6.7 percent in 2014 and 5.3 percent in 2015.

Tablet Slowdown

Meanwhile the tablet market is increasingly maturing. Gartner estimates that sales of tablets will see a relative slowdown in 2014 to reach 256 million units, an increase of 23.9 percent from 2013.

Gartner cites a number of reasons for the slowdown in tablet sales, including the fact there is lower demand for tablets with smaller screens, and an increase in demand for the phablet form factor.

“The next wave of (tablet) adoption will be driven by lower price points rather than superior functionality,” said Atwal.

Mobile Growth

And what of the mobile phone market? Well, sales of mobile phones are expected to reach 1.9 billion units in 2014, a 3.1 percent increase from 2013.

Smartphone sales are expected to continue to be the main driver here. Indeed, Gartner estimates that smartphone sales will represent 88 percent of global mobile phone sales by 2018 – up from 66 percent in 2014.

Android is the clear winner is the operating system segment, followed by Windows and Mac/iOS. Gartner says that in 2014, Android and iOS are driving the growth with a 30 percent and 15 percent increase respectively.

“We expect the announcement of the new Apple iPhone 6 will attract pent-up demand for users who want a larger screen,” said Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner.

But there was equally good news for Windows Phone, with Gartner predicting a solid third place in the mobile phone operating system segment.

“Windows phones will exhibit strong growth from a low base in 2014, and are projected to reach a 10 percent market share by 2018 – up from 4 percent in 2014,” said Zimmermann.

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