PC not dead, Apple single-handedly propping up mobe market, says Gartner

Yes, folks, it's crystal ball time again

PC shipments will continue sliding south, reckon Gartner’s mystic mages – but, like Monty Python’s Black Knight, they still refuse to lie down and die.

Figures from everyone’s favourite analyst haus suggest that shipments of desktop computers will decline from 220 million worldwide in 2016 to 187 million units by 2019.

Overall, the firm predicts that shipments of mobes, fondleslabs and old-fashioned PC-style boxen will increase by 2.1 per cent this year.

“The market is on a downward trend for the next couple of years,” research director Ranjit Atwal told The Register. “As we go into 2018 we are looking at a flat PC market... the consumer market is weak.”

Business PC use has held up, however, with the projection for biz-focused PC shipments set to flatline, Atwal said – a pleasant change from its previous downward trajectory. Atwal reckoned it was business PC shipments that “had been holding up the PC market” as companies migrate from elderly operating systems to Windows 10.

“The consumer decline was more severe,” he said, adding that Windows 10 “has come through” for shifters of business boxen.

The tale for smartphones was different, with Gartner’s Roberta Cozza telling us: “By 2019, 9 per cent of devices will be 5G-enabled by default.”

The beancounters reckon that mobile phone shipments will dip slightly in the full-year 2017 reckoning – down from 2016’s 1.89 billion units to 1.86 billion – before rebounding to 1.92 billion units shipped by next year.

“We’re expecting to see units that support 5G in selected countries, such as the US and South Korea,” said Cozza. Although she thinks that AI on phones has potential, she doesn’t see that potential making an impact on the market in the short term.

Apple had a big impact on Gartner’s predictions for the smartphone market, and Cozza puts this down to the iPhone X launch: “Users were not committed until they see the iPhone X and what it can do. It’s different from the 7 and 8. I do believe that in mature markets Apple will try for a strong replacement cycle.”

For Android, however, things were looking a little less exciting, in Cozza’s view: “It’s still dominated by Samsung... The S8 has been truly successful and gained share up to Q3 (2017), with Q4 only being hit by the launch of the iPhone X. We’ll see what the Galaxy S9 will bring.”

Samsung is widely expected to launch a new flagship mobe at Mobile World Congress later this year.

Cozza also sees more and more integrated offerings, a la Google and Amazon, in the near future. She said the bigger players want to “see their vision of the world, the signature experience”. ®

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