Gartner: Worldwide device shipments will decline 0.3% in 2017

07 / 07 / 2017

Worldwide shipments of PCs, tablets and smartphones are expected to decline 0.3% from 2016 to around 2.3bn units in 2017, according to Gartner, the research and advisory house.

The market is forecast to return to growth in 2018 with a 1.6% increase in shipments, it added. Hi tech devices such as phones and tablets have been a traditional market for airfreight services.

"Overall, the shipment growth of the device market is steady for the first time in many years," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

"PC shipments are slightly lower while phone shipments are slightly higher ─ leading to a slight downward revision in shipments from the previous forecast."

PC market decline is slowing 

PC shipments are on pace to drop 3% in 2017, but the rate of decline is slower than in recent years, alleviated by Windows 10 replacement purchasing.

"PC buyers continue to put quality and functionality ahead of price," said Atwal, adding: "Many organizations are coming to the end of their evaluation periods for Windows 10, and are now increasing the speed at which they adopt new PCs as they see the clear benefits of better security and newer hardware."

Smartphone shipments set up for strong growth in 2017

Overall smartphone shipments will grow 5% in 2017, reaching nearly 1.6bn units. End-user spending continues to shift from low-cost "utility" phones toward higher priced "basic" and "premium" smartphones.

"The Samsung S8 and S8 Plus have had a strong impact so far in 2017, with users undeterred by battery issues that affected the Note 7 at the end of 2016. This good start points to a rebound for Samsung," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

She added: "Continued premium smartphone growth in 2017 will also be highly dependent on the forthcoming anniversary edition of Apple's iPhone, which should bring more-drastic feature and design upgrades than the last few iterations."

Recent announcements from Apple indicate that some new technologies and functionalities may also appear in the next iPhone in areas like augmented reality and improved machine learning.

The "basic" smartphone market is expected to record 686m shipments in 2017, up 6.8% from 2016.

"Consumers have already accepted the greater value attained from the better capabilities of basic smartphones, compared to low-end utility devices. Therefore, the average selling prices of mid- and high-range smartphones continue to increase," said Cozza.

"The Chinese players currently pushing basic smartphones with premium feel and features into the market will continue to strengthen the shift away from low-end utility phones toward basic smartphones."

New technologies fail to drive demand
The total installed base for these devices is currently around 7bn units, so vendors are constantly looking at ways to add new capabilities that can give their products an edge in the market, said Gartner.