Global devices shipments to rise 9 per cent in 2013: Gartner

Global shipment of digital devices is expected to touch 2.4 billion pieces this year, a 9 per cent rise from 2012, while the change in consumer behaviour would impact the traditional personal computer (PC) market.

The shipments of the devices - personal computers, tablets and mobile phones - are forecast to grow, reaching more than 2.9 billion units in 2017, but the mix of these devices will significantly change over the forecast period. The proliferation of lower-priced tablets and their growing capability is accelerating the shift from PCs to tablets, a Gartner report said.

"While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal computer and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device," Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said.

"As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smart phones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis,'' Milanesi added.

Impact on PC market
As a result, the traditional PC market (notebooks and desk-based units) is expected to decline 7.6 per cent in 2013. This is not a temporary trend induced by a more austere economic environment, but a reflection of a long-term change in user behaviour, the study said.

Beginning 2013, ultra mobiles will help offset this decline, so that sales of traditional PCs and ultra-mobiles combined show a 3.5 per cent decline in 2013.

The global tablet shipments are forecast to rise 69.8 per cent to 197 million units in 2013 from 116 million units in 2012.

"Lower prices, form factor variety, cloud update and consumers' addiction to applications will be the key drivers in the tablet market," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

"Growth in the tablet segment will not be limited to mature markets alone. Users in emerging markets who are looking for a companion to their mobile phone will increasingly choose a tablet as their first computing device and not a PC,'' Atwal added.

In the shares of operating systems (OSs) in device sales, the shift to mobile and the fight for the third ecosystem becomes more evident. Android continues to be the dominant OS in the device market, buoyed by strong growth in the smart phone market. Competition for the second spot will be between Apple's iOS/Mac OS and Microsoft Windows.

Affordable smart phones
Tablets are not the only device types that are seeing aggressive price erosion. Smart phones are also becoming more affordable, driving adoption in emerging markets and the pre-paid segment in mature markets. Of the 1.875 billion mobile phones to be sold in 2013, 1 billion units will be smart phones, compared with 675 million units in 2012.

"The trend towards smart phones and tablets will have much wider implications than hardware displacement. Software and chipset architecture are also impacted by this shift as consumers embrace apps and personal cloud," Milanesi said.

Worldwide Devices Shipments by Segment (Thousands of Units)
Device Type
       2012
       2013
       2014
       2017
PC (Desk-Based and Notebook)
341,263
315,229
302,315
271,612
Ultramobile
9,822
23,592
38,687
96,350
Tablet
116,113
197,202
265,731
467,951
Mobile Phone
1,746,176
1,875,774
1,949,722
2,128,871
Total
2,213,373
2,411,796
2,556,455
2,964,783

Source: Gartner (April 2013)

Worldwide Devices Shipments by Operating System (Millions of Units)
Operating System
       2012
     2013
       2014
       2017
Android
497,082
860,937
1,069,503
1,468,619
Windows
346,457
354,410
397,533
570,937
iOS/MacOS
212,899
293,428
359,483
504,147
RIM
34,722
31,253
27,15
24,121
Others
1,122,213
871,718
702,786
396,959
Total
2,213,373
2,411,79
2,556,455
2,964,783

Note: Devices include notebooks and desk-based PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones.

Source: Gartner (April 2013)