Research firm Gartner estimates that a total of 2.5 billion devices will be shipped in the year 2015 representing a 1.5% increase from the shipments made in 2015. Those devices include everything from mobile phones (feature phones and smartphones) to tablets and PCs. General user spending on devices will however dip by 5.7%.
Whereas the mobile phone market’s rise is expected to continue unabated throughout the year thanks to strong demand for smartphones from China and the emerging markets, PC and tablet shipments and sales are expected to slump further.
Demand for tablets has weakened thanks to the rise of the phablet, a big smartphone. With the big smartphones, need for tablets especially the small ones in the 7-8 inch category is no longer there. This is particularly the case in markets in Asia where big smartphones are the trend. The demand for big smartphones pushed Apple, a longtime proponent of moderately-sized smartphones, to change its hardline stance and embrace them. That has paid off with demand for the iPhone being at an all time high in China and other key markets. Gartner has revised its expected life cycle for tablets to 3 years and this is indicative of the other reason why tablets aren’t flying off the shelves as mobile phones are: a tablet has a longer life cycle. While there may be need to buy a new phone every year, such a need doesn’t exist as far as tablets are concerned. Add the fact that we’ve not seen any exciting new innovations in the tablet space over the last few years and you have an explanation as to why it will be quite some time before tablets regain their footing.
Of the 2.5 billion devices expected to be shipped in 2015, tablets will account for just 207 million units. That is a 5.9% decline when compared to the shipments made last year.
Low sales in Western Europe, Russia and Japan as a result of the devaluation of local currencies against the US Dollar mean that the overall forecast for PC shipments is aren’t high. However, while the outlook may be grim, there are some positives. The number of PCs shipped in 2015 is expected to rise slightly to 311 million units from last year’s 300 million which was a dip from the 2013 high of 314 million.
While the growth of the mobile phone market has been exponential over the years, it is expected to slow down to 3.3% this year thanks in part to saturation of the smartphone market in advanced markets like Europe and North America. Even in China where growth had reached unimaginable levels in recent years, there are fewer first time buyers of smartphones at the moment. Growth in that market will now be pegged on repeat customers out to replace their ageing devices. The only other way to get interest in such a market is innovation that will provide worthy upgrades that can entice customers.