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Tablets, Phones To Drive Computing-Device Shipments

STAMFORD, CONN. — Combined worldwide shipments of PCs, tablets and cellphones will rise 4.5 percent in 2013 to 2.32 billion units in 2013, driven by tablet and cellphone growth, research and consulting company Gartner forecast.

Worldwide shipments of traditional desk-based and notebook PCs will drop 11.2 percent to 303 million units in 2013, Gartner forecasts. Sales of ultramobile PCs will rise 90 percent to 18.6 million, but the entire PC market (desktop, notebook, and ultramobile) will still decline 8.4 percent, the company said.

Mobile phone shipments, on the other hand, will grow 3.7 percent in 2013 to more than 1.8 billion units in 2013, and tablet shipments will grow 53.4 percent to 184 million units.

Although the mobile phone market will continue to post steady growth, “the opportunity for high average selling price (ASP) smartphones is now ending,” the company said. In mature markets, growth will come from midtier smartphones, and in emerging markets, growth will come from low-end Android smartphones.”

“Premium price points in tablets are also threatened because of continued price declines in the 7-inch form factor and because “a larger number of consumers prefer smaller form factors when it comes to content consumption,” Gartner said. A recent consumer study Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., the U.S. and Japan showed that 47 percent of the 21,500 consumers surveyed owned a tablet with a screen size of 8 inches or less.

“Continuing on the trend we saw last year, we expect this holiday season to be all about smaller tablets as even the long-term holiday favorite — the smartphone — loses its appeal,” said research VP Carolina Milanesi.

Among all devices, Android will remain the leading OS in 2013 and 2014. Android will account for 879.9 million device shipments in 2013, followed by “other” with 809.9 million, Windows (including PCs) with 331.6 million, iOS/MacOS with 271.9 million, and BlackBerry with 23.1 million. In 2014, the ranks will remain unchanged, Gartner forecasts.

The Windows Phone OS will remain challenged despite Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Nokia’s device business, Gartner said. “Windows Phone challenges in the smartphone market remain the same, with the need to bring on board more developers and enrich the ecosystem, as well as turning the Windows Phone brand into a cool smartphone brand,” Milanese said. “While there are clear benefits to the acquisition, such as channel strength, carrier relationship and emerging-market knowledge [for Microsoft], the brand and ecosystem do not directly benefit from it,” she contended.

As for wearable devices, Gartner expects they will primarily be a companion to mobile phones, with 1 percent of consumers replacing their mobile phones with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet by 2017.

“For wearables to be successful, they need to add to the user experience by complementing and enhancing what other devices already offer,” said Milanesi. “They also need to be stylish yet practical, and most of all hit the right price. In the short term, we expect consumers to look at wearables as nice to have rather than a ‘must have,’ leaving smartphones to play the role of our faithful companion throughout the day.”