Worldwide shipments of devices, including personal computers (PCs), tablets and mobile phones, are on pace to record 0.9% growth this year to reach 2.28-billion units, says market research and advisory multinational Gartner.
The PC and tablet market is expected to decline by 1.2% this year, while the mobile phone market is set to record an increase of 1.4%.
“The PC market is still hindered by the undersupply of the dynamic random access memory 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 [the year],” said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.
“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% this year.
Additionally, the desk-based and notebook PCs are predicted to continue declining in 2019 and 2020, from 195-million units in 2018 to 181-million units in 2020, while the ultramobile premium devices are predicted to grow from 65-million units in 2018 to 80-million units in 2020.
The next major shift in the PC market will be marked by the end of support for Windows 7 in January 2020, said Atwal.
“It is becoming paramount for businesses to migrate to Windows 10 as soon as possible, and certainly by the end of 2019,” he said.
North America started the first Windows 10 migration phase in 2015 and will complete it in about 2019.
Western Europe is increasing its adoption of Windows 10 this year; however, in China, Japan and other emerging regions, migration plans are shifting from 2018 to 2019 as these countries continue to prepare for inherent complications in changing process and procedures for Windows as a service.
While the global device market is affected by macroeconomic factors and technology developments, it can also be influenced by the Chinese device market.
“China accounts for over 20% of global spending on devices, so any changes occurring there can have a significant ripple effect globally,” said Atwal.
With nearly 1.9-billion units to be shipped this year, mobile phones are the main influencer of the global device market growth. In China, mobile phone sales declined by 8.7% in 2017 to 428-million units, but are estimated to grow by 3.3% in 2018, representing 23% of total mobile phone sales this year.
The traditional PC market in China is on pace to decline by 1.7% to 38.5-million shipments in 2018, representing 21% 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. 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 this year, as well as Apple iPhone's replacement cycle expected through 2019 will generate demand,” says Atwal.