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End-User Device Spend Forecast to Rise 7%

April 8, 2018

After a decline of 3 percent in 2017, worldwide shipments of devices — PCs, tablets and mobile phones — are forecast to return to growth (+1.3 percent) in 2018 and will total 2.3 billion units.

While the performance of shipments of devices fluctuate year over year, end-user device spending continues to rise and is forecast to increase 7 percent in 2018. "Driven by better specifications despite increasing costs ASPs for devices rose by 9.1 percent in 2017, and this trend will continue through this year, where we expect prices will increase by 5.6 percent," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

Despite PC prices increasing 4.6 percent in 2018, PC market unit demand, driven by business buying, is stabilizing through 2018 The traditional PC market will decline 3.9 percent in units in 2018, and is expected to decline a further 3.6 percent during 2019 (see Table 1).

Table 1

Worldwide Device Shipments by Device Type, 2016-2019 (Millions of Units)

Device Type

2016

2017

2018

2019

Traditional PCs (Desk-Based and Notebook)

220

204

196

189

Ultramobiles (Premium)

50

58

67

77

Total PC Market

270

263

263

266

Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility)

169

158

159

159

Computing Device Market

439

420

422

425

Mobile Phones

1,893

1,841

1,870

1,892

Total Device Market

2,332

2,262

2,292

2,317

Source: Gartner (April 2018)

Regional Market Recovering at Different Pace

Economic upheaval has affected the demand for devices variably across regions. Argentina, Brazil, Japan and Russia collectively lost nearly 25 percent of their device shipments between 2013 and 2017. "While the rate of recovery is varied regionally, most of the device types are now showing growth across these countries," said Mr. Atwal.

In countries suffering from significant economic turmoil the extended lifetimes across all device types tend to remain stagnant. "As a result, as markets recover, they will fail to reach the unit volumes previously seen and will only recover to around 70 percent of those shipments by 2022," added Mr. Atwal.

Worldwide Mobile Phone Lifetimes to Increase Through 2020

Gartner forecasts that global mobile phone shipments will increase 1.6 percent in 2018, with total mobile phone sales amounting to almost 1.9 billion units. In 2019, smartphone sales are on pace to continue to grow, at 5 percent year over year.

Overall, Gartner estimates that mobile phone lifetimes will increase from 2017 through 2020. "Premium phone lifetimes are expected to increase the most in the near-term, as users look to hold onto these devices due to a lack of new technology impact, prohibiting upgrades," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

Mobile phone lifetimes will start to reduce again beyond 2020. "By 2020, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities on smartphones will offer a more intelligent digital persona on the device. Machine learning, biometrics and user behavior will improve the ease of use, self-service and frictionless authentications. This will allow smartphones to be more trusted than other credentials, such as credit cards, passports, IDs or keys," said Mr. Gupta.

Future AI capabilities, including natural-language processing and machine perception (reading all sensors), will allow smartphones to learn, plan and solve problems for users. "This is not just about making the smartphone smarter, but augmenting users by reducing their cognitive load and enabling a ‘Digital Me’ that sits on the device," said Mr. Gupta.

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