Shipments of smartphones and tablets are skyrocketing, while PC shipments are going off a cliff – that pretty much sums up every single market research report over the last couple of years. Gartner’s latest report is just more of the same.
Big G estimates tablet shipments will grow 53.4 percent this year, hitting 184 million units. At the same time, shipments of PCs will be down 11.2 percent compared to 2012. It’s no surprise, but it’s worse than what Gartner forecasted back in April, when it said PC sales would decline 7.3 percent.
The trouble for PC churners is that old form factors are dying, but at the same time new form factors such as hybrids and ultrathins aren’t growing fast enough to balance things out. Even when shipments of ultraportables like Windows 8 tablets are thrown into the mix, the decline is still 8.4 percent. However, Gartner still believes new form factors will help in the long run. Shipments of traditional desktops and laptops are expected to total 303 million units this year.
Tablets are evolving as well and new form factors are emerging. In the high-end we’re seeing more elaborate designs with proper mechanical keyboards, although OS constraints are limiting their success. At the bottom, shoppers are picking up cheap 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire series. Even cheaper devices are available. Last year was all about the $199 price point introduced by the Nexus 7, while this year is shaping up to be the year of the $99 white-box tablet.
Tablets aren’t just hurting PC sales, cheap and cheerful tablets are also expected to cannibalize holiday smartphone sales. Smartphone penetration is already relatively high and western markets are still in love with pricey high-end devices, so a cheap tablet seems like a good holiday gift idea.
The most impressive figure in the report is the combined shipments estimate. The world will gobble up a staggering 2.32 billion phones, tablets and PCs this year.