The total number of device (PCs, tablets, mobile phones, etc.) shipments worldwide is projected to reach 2.32 billion units in 2013, a 4.5 percent increase from 2012. So say the researchers at Gartner.
That number would be quite a bit higher if the traditional PC (desk-based and notebook) market weren't dragging it down. Shipments of traditional PCs are predicted to decline more than 11 percent from 2012, to 303 million units. The PC market as a whole – including ultramobiles – is forecast to fall 8.4 percent.
With more than 1.8 billion units, mobile phone shipments are projected to grow 3.7 percent, representing a slowdown as the market becomes more saturated.
Monster growth, however, is happening in tablet shipments. The number is expected to reach 184 million in 2013, an increase of more than 53 percent over last year. Smaller tablets are becoming more popular — a Gartner survey in eight countries showed that the average screen size of tablets ranged from 8.3 to 9.5 inches, while 47 percent of the consumers surveyed owned a tablet that was smaller than 8 inches.
"While consumers will be bombarded with ads for the new ultramobile devices, we expect their attention to be grabbed but not necessarily their money," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "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."
That being said, the mobile phone market will still experience steady growth, but the opportunity for the high average selling price (ASP) smartphones is now ending. Most of the growth is expected from mid-tier smartphones in mature markets and low-end Androids in emerging markets, Gartner said.
Technology providers are also looking to wearable devices as a market opportunity; however, Gartner predicts that wearable devices will remain joined to mobile phones. Less than 1 percent of consumers will actually replace 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."