Media & Entertainment

Devices Shipments To Grow 6.9% Globally This Year, Says Gartner, As PC Decline Softens

Comment

Image Credits:

Analyst Gartner has just put out its latest worldwide devices forecast, predicting a growth rate of 6.9% for shipments of traditional PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones this year. That’s up on the 4.8% growth achieved last year.

Collectively, 2.5 billion devices are expected to ship in 2014.

Phones will make up 1.9 billion of that pie, a 4.9% increase on last year. Growth in phones is projected to come from mid-tier devices.

Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs are forecast to total 276.7 million units in 2014, a 6.6% decline on 2013.

The improved overall devices growth rate vs last year is down to a couple of factors, says Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal: on the one hand, a softening of the decline in PC sales, and on the other continued adoption of mobile phones in emerging markets as handset prices are squeezed lower to allow more of us meatsacks to shuffle up the onramp and upgrade from basic phones to budget smartphones.

Gartner

“The PC market as a whole is declining less, so it’s not such a drag on the overall growth,” Atwal told TechCrunch. “And then on the phone side there’s still an upgrade path in emerging markets — we’ll see lower price points come through. There’s still that shift of people in emerging markets, although that will be a lower price point, so there’s a unit uptick but impact on revenues.”

Why are PCs declining less than they were? It’s something of a bottoming out of the flight from traditional desktops to other types of devices (like tablets).

“The decline in PCs is starting to bottom out as users have disposed of PCs that they don’t want to use, so on the PC side we’re getting to what we might call more of an engaged user-installed base,” said Atwal.

He added that the past 18 months to two years in the space have seen users experimenting with new device types and use-cases being pushed by manufacturers, but he argues that some of that experimentation is shaking out now, as people get more comfortable about the devices they feel are genuinely useful to them.

So maybe they flirted with a tablet for work but decided that actually a laptop is better suited to their needs.

“What we’ve seen [in the past 18 months to two years] is users buying different devices and then getting rid of different devices — so they’ve been mixing and matching different devices as they come onto the market,” said Atwal. “Now some of that is shaking down in that users are getting a bigger handle on how they’re actually deploying or using those different types of devices. And effectively deciding over time… which of those devices are important for which things.

“The next phase is people will continue to buy devices, but will start to rationalise or increase their portfolio of devices, as well, and try to work out what really fits their need,” he added.

That said, there’s more user head-scratching to be done when it comes to laptop/tablet hybrids.  “We’re going through another phase of users understanding whether these hybrids coming in — combinations of tablets and keyboards — really is what they want, rather than dedicated devices,” he said.

Gartner’s forecast pegs tablet growth at 38.6% in 2014, as it says adoption of slates will continue into markets other than North America.

Although tablet growth is slowing somewhat, that’s to be expected, says Atwal, since the category has been such a powerhouse of growth in recent years.

“It’s what you would expect. Tablet growth has been substantial, especially in North America, so as you go through the phases it’s going to slow,” he said. “But it’s still over 30% so, relatively, it is not huge growth but 30% growth in any market is still substantial… So I would be very wary of calling tablet growth slowing down.

“Over time there’s a shift from iOS… to now lower-priced Android tablets which is the next phase in terms of how people adopt. Because they’re going to be lower priced, it’s not the early adopters, it’s the next level. This is the evolution of the market.”

Device makers are facing squeezed margins across the board, said Atwal, adding: “There is no respect, as far as that is concerned, for the vendors.”

Google, with Android and its services-focused “post-hardware play” continues to be the main beneficiary of a market where hardware margins continue to be driven down — being as it leads to device adoption swelling. Gartner says Android is still on pace to sell more than 1 billion devices in 2014.

“Android seems to be a neverending story in terms of a devices installed base,” said Atwal, pointing to the rise of the OS in categories outside of the ones covered by this report, such as wearables or smart TVs.

“We’re starting to see even notebooks and desktops with Android in… and then at the other end they’ve got TVs and smart TVs, and cars,” he said. “Once you’ve got that installed base, can the hardware vendors do anything? It’s more of an application story after that.”

Gartner

What happens to hardware vendors in a market with shrinking profits is usually consolidation and exits. Witness the PC market.

Portfolio mix is they key to which manufacturers will survive in the devices space and which won’t, said Atwal. “They have to make choices between Android and Microsoft and then ultimately to try and devise further services on top of that. And that’s always been an issue. While we have a lot more range of devices, essentially the business model underneath it still needs to evolve much more rapidly than it has.

“Even though the market’s growing… they haven’t really managed to push any upside into the margin.”

Turning to Apple, Gartner notes that iOS tablet growth slowed in North America in 2013 and the analyst said Cupertino will need to “reinvigorate” its replacement cycle to help fire up iPad growth.

Talking generally about Apple’s prospects, Atwal said there is still the option for the company to do something disruptive at the lower end of mobile devices — albeit, doing budget hardware isn’t the Apple way.

There is also still an opportunity for Apple to offer something with more mainstream appeal in wearables — i.e. more mainstream than a lot of the “me too” devices currently on the market, which tend to target specific niches such as fitness.

“It will be interesting to see if they do produce something different,” he added, noting that wearables require a new approach to interface, too — driven by gestures, or potentially voice.

“That’s a way that [Apple] may be looking at doing something different. They’ve tried voice [with Siri], and whether that gets enhanced to be usable, becomes a really kind of effortless gesture for different interactions with devices. That’s the next era in terms of how we might move forward.”

More TechCrunch

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €285M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps