Worldwide shipments of devices — PCs, tablets and mobile phones — totaled 2.28 billion units in 2017, according to Gartner, Inc. Shipments are on course to reach 2.32 billion units in 2018, an increase of 2.1 percent.
Two markets will drive overall growth in device shipments in 2018. First is the mobile phone market, led by the high-end smartphone segment. Second is the premium ultramobile market, where thin and light Apple and Microsoft Windows 10 devices are stimulating higher demand.
“Consumers have many technologies to choose from, which poses two main challenges for vendors. The first is to compete for wallet share, given how many devices consumers own. The second is to deliver value and maintain relevance — to offer the right device to the right audience," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "We will see more buyers focusing on value, rather than just price, and therefore considering higher-priced devices."
PC Market Will Be Flat in 2018
Gartner forecasts that shipments of traditional PCs will decline by 5.4 percent in 2018 (see Table 1), with notebooks showing the steepest decline (6.8 percent). The premium ultramobile market will be the only PC segment to achieve growth in 2018, without which the overall PC market would decline.
"DRAM costs have doubled since June 2016, and PC providers have increased PC prices since the first half of 2017,” added Mr. Atwal. “This trend is likely to continue into 2018, until DRAM cost trends reverse."
Worldwide Device Shipments by Device Type, 2016-2019 (Millions of Units)
Total PC Market
Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility)
Computing Device Market
Total Device Market
Source: Gartner (January 2018)
By 2021, 9 Percent of Smartphones Sold Will Support 5G
Gartner forecasts that mobile phone shipments will increase by 2.6 percent in 2018, with the total amounting to 1.9 billion units. In 2018, smartphone sales will grow by 6.2 percent, to represent 87 percent of mobile phone sales. "We expect Apple smartphone sales to grow by more than the market average in 2018, with the launch of new models fueling stronger replacement cycles," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.
5G phones will reach the market in 2019, when rollouts of 5G networks will start in select countries, such as the U.S. and South Korea. "We predict that, by 2021, 9 percent of smartphones sold will support 5G," said Ms. Cozza. “Overall, 5G will be a significant driver of video and streaming services, as it will bring faster uplinks and support new AI applications.”