PC Shipments To Fall By 10.6 Percent While Tablet Rise Continues – Gartner

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Gartner says PC shipments will fall again during 2013, but predicts ‘ultramobile’ devices will provide a boost

Updated: Gartner has predicted that shipments of traditional PCs will fell yet again, this time by 10.6 percent from 2012, but predicts a rise of 5.9 percent rise in mobile devices, by combining shipments of PCs, with very fast-growing ‘ultramobile’ devices, tablets and mobile phones into one figure.

PC shipments will fall  to 305 million units for the year, while tablet shipments will increase by 67.9 percent to 202 million and mobile phones by 4.3 percent to 1.8 billion, Gartner believes.

Analysts attributed this latest decline in PC sales to changing consumer preferences but also to changes in the channel to make room for new products released later this year, which could provide a boost to the industry.

PC shipments fall

IBM PC failUltramobile devices, such as Chromebooks, slates and hybrid devices running Windows 8.1 are expected to hit the market, with some consumers upgrading from notebooks and premium tablets such as the iPad.

Gartner says that although this will only help overall sales slightly in the short term, it will eventually increase average selling prices and raise profit margins. Earlier this year the firm said that there would be twice as many Android devices sold as Windows machines during 2012 as the format continues to eat into PC sales.

The increase in tablet shipments is not surprising given the recent rapid growth in the market, but analysts have warned that new challenges are set to hamper progress. It predicts longer life cycles for touchscreen devices, while there has been a shift from premium tablets to basic tablets such as the iPad Mini, which now accounts for 60 percent of all iOS tablet sales.

Tablets and mobiles

“The increased availability of lower priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices.”

Atwal also predicted similar difficulties for the smartphone industry as consumers wait longer to change their handsets and profit margins narrow.

“With mobile phones, volume expectations for 2013 have been brought down as the life cycles lengthen as consumers wait for new models and lower prices to hit the market in the Fall and holiday season.

“The challenge in the smartphone market is also that, as penetration moves more and more to the mass market, price points are lowering and in most cases so do margins.”

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