Worldwide tablet and PC shipments are on divergent paths: tablet shipments will increase 67.9% this year, while traditional PC shipments will decline 10.6%, according to the latest from Gartner. Overall, worldwide device shipments – PCs, tablets and mobile phones – will increase 5.9% from 2012 to reach 2.35 billion units in 2013.

With PC shipments declining, market growth “is being driven by sales in tablets, smartphones, and to a lesser extent, ultramobiles,” according to a Gartner press release.

Gartner analysts forecast a 305-million-unit drop in desktop and notebook PC shipments. When factoring in ultramobiles, PC shipments will fall 7.3% worldwide this year.

In contrast, worldwide tablet shipments will reach 202 million units, up 67.9% year-over-year. Mobile phone shipments are expected to rise 4.3%, with unit shipments surpassing 1.8 billion.

“Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products. Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets,” commented Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

Ultramobiles and Basic Tablets Having an Impact
Gartner analysts see demand for ultramobiles – such as Chromebooks, thin and light clamshell designs, and slate and hybrid devices running Windows 8 – “gaining in attractiveness and drawing demand away from other devices,” a development that “will be even more evidcent in the fourth quarter of 2013 when the combination of new designs based on Intel processors Bay Trail and Haswell running on Windows 8.1 will hit the market.”

Longer life cycles and a shift from premium to basic tablets pose challenges for market participants, according to Gartner, as the share of basic tablets is increasing faster than anticipated. Sales of the iPad Mini represented 60% of total iOS  sales in 1Q 2013.

“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,” commented Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal. “We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices.

“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.”

Commenting on the competitive positions of leading players, Ms. Milanesi added, “Although the numbers seem to paint a clear picture of who the winner will be when it comes to operating systems (OS) in the device market, the reality is that today ecosystem owners are challenged in having the same relevance in all segments.

“Apple is currently the more homogeneous presence across all device segments, while 90 percent of Android sales are currently in the mobile phone market and 85 percent of Microsoft sales are in the PC market.”

Gartner analysts also forecast that computing devices bought by consumers will grow to represent a larger share of the overall market given enterprises’ growing acceptance of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), rising from 65% in 2013 to 72% in 2017.

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