New York — Gartner is forecasting double-digit worldwide growth for mobile phones, tablets and ultrathin laptops for the next four years.
The only category expected to decline during this period is desktop PCs and laptops.
The research firm reported that 2.4 billion connected devices will ship this year, up from 2.2 billion in 2012. This figure will climb to 2.6 billion by 2014 and hit 2.96 billion by 2017.
Tablet shipments will be leading this charge with an increase to 197 million units shipping this year, up from 116 million in 2012. In the coming years tablet shipments will more than double hitting 467.9 million by 2017, Gartner said.
Gartner noted that price erosion is playing a major role in tablet adoption, along with the increased availability of different-size tablets. Growth will also spread to emerging markets in the coming years as these consumers look for a larger companion device to supplement their smartphone.
Mobile phone growth will be steady, but not as spectacular, gradually nudging its way from 1.9 billion shipped this year to 2.1 billion by 2017.
Ultrathin laptops will see a very high growth rate, although overall numbers will remain somewhat low. Gartner expects 23.6 million to ship this year, with 96.4 million expected by 2017.
Desktop PC and traditional laptops are the lone category that will experience a decline. Last year saw 341 million shipped, but this number will decline to 315.2 million this year and eventually fall to 271.6 million by 2017.
Gartner analysts said this decline is not a temporary hiccup, but a permanent feature of the category as consumers opt for tablets.
Android is expected to remain the operating system of choice overall for connected devices during this period, with 860.9 million devices that use this OS shipping this year. This will grow to 1.7 billion by 2017. Windows will remain in second place, with 354.4 million devices using this OS this year, and Apple’s iOS/MacOS will take third place, with 293.4 million shipping.
RIM’s outlook is not as bright: The number of its devices is expected to fall from 31.2 million in 2013 to 24.1 million in 2017.
Interestingly, Gartner’s “other” OS category will also fall into disfavor as consumers are drawn to the top three operating systems. Devices using another OS will fall from 1.1 billion in 2012 to 397 million in 2017.