Gartner Finds Users Hanging On to Their Devices

Global shipments for PCs, tablets and ultramobile devices will decline in 2015, though smartphone shipments will see a 14 percent increase.

Dell notebook

Shipments of most computing devices are expected to decline this year as consumers are keeping ahold of their PCs, tablets and ultramobile systems, according to Gartner analysts.

Pricing issues caused by currency devaluation are keeping many people from replacing their devices, the analysts said in a report this week, also suggesting that consumers and business users also are looking forward to PCs that run Microsoft's Windows 10 and Intel's 14-nanometer Skylake processors.

Combined, shipments of devices are expected to fall by 1 percent this year, to 2.4 billion units, a sharp change from the 1.5 percent increase Gartner analysts were forecasting in the previous quarter. Mobile phones are the only computing devices expected to escape the decline, with shipments expected to grow 1.4 percent in 2015, the analysts found.

Shipments of smartphones will grow 14 percent, they said.

"Replacement activity across all types of devices has decreased," Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "Users are extending the lifetime of their devices, or deciding not to replace their devices at all."

PC shipments worldwide will hit 291 million units this year, a drop of 7.3 percent. In addition, sales will remain flat next year before seeing an upturn in 2017, as systems with Windows 10 and Skylake processors hit the market in 2016, the analysts said. The currency issues also will wane next year, and the combination of new systems and better pricing will lead to a 4 percent increase in PC shipments in two years, Atwal said.

PC sales have been declining since 2011, due in part to the rising popularity of tablets and smartphones and the lack of new systems that pique user interest. Vendors are hoping that the new range of form factors—from two-in-ones to all-in-ones—and the features found in Windows 10 and Intel chips will bring consumers and businesses back to PCs.

Gartner's forecast echoes what IDC analysts found last month. IDC forecast that global PC shipments will fall 8.7 percent this year due to large inventories of notebooks on the market and the strength of the U.S. dollar against other currencies. It didn't help that Microsoft offered a free three-month upgrade to Windows 10 for existing Windows 7 and 8 systems. That said, new systems with Windows 10 and Skylake chips will help fuel an increase in sales in 2017, the IDC analysts said.

The ultramobile segment—which includes tablets and clamshell systems—also will see a shipment decline of 12 percent this year, to 199 million units. Tablet shipments will fall 13 percent from 2014, to 192 million units.

"The tablet market is coming under increasing pressure," Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "Users of tablets with a screen size between 7 and 8 inches are increasingly not replacing their devices."

Gartner also found that in a June survey of users in six countries, 44 percent of tablet users are planning to substitute their tablets with a different device. That is even higher for laptop users, as 54 percent of them are intending to opt for alternative devices, the analysts said.

Mobile phones, in general, and smartphones, in particular, will continue to see growth, according to Zimmerman. By 2017, mobile phone shipments will hit 2 billion units, and smartphones will be 89 percent of the market.