Worldwide shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones will reach 2.5 billion in 2014, a rise of 6.9 percent on 2013, although this growth is being slowed down by the continued slump in PC sales.
Analyst house Gartner said total device shipments in 2013 hit 2.32 billion, and were on target to rise to 2.48 billion in 2014. This is expected to rise again in 2015 to 2.63 billion, with smartphones and tablets leading this growth.
Mobile phone shipments of 1.89 billion are expected in 2014, and 1.95 billion in 2015. For tablets, shipments are predicted to leap from 195 million in 2013 to 271 million in 2014, then 349 million in 2015.
By contrast PC sales will fall from 296 million in 2013 to 277 million in 2014 and then 263 million in 2015, as manufacturers such as Dell, Acer and Lenovo continue to face a tough market.
Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, told V3 the market for devices such as tablets and notebooks would evolve as vendors look to meet the more specific needs of buyers, further hampering the demand for PCs.
“We are seeing an expansion of the categories to fill in the gaps between tablets and notebooks as users start to assess their needs around productivity, content creation and input,” he said.
"People are starting to realise that perhaps they don't want five different devices but would instead prefer having one or two that can meet their needs more effectively."
Atwal said this does provide opportunities for hardware manufacturers to sell more devices with features such as keyboards, but it also poses challenges of knowing exactly where to place their effort with the development of new products.
“I don’t think vendors are really getting their heads around the transformation at the moment and how to market their devices," he added.
Unsurprisingly, the clear winner from this predicted market momentum will be Android with shipments of devices running the platform predicted to hit 1.17 billion in 2014 and then 1.36 billion in 2015.
Apple iOS will also see strong growth, from 241 million in 2013 to 286 million and then 324 million in 2015. Windows will grow too, although by much smaller margins, from 325 million to 339 million and then 379 million.
Atwal said Microsoft is still suffering from branding and marketing issues around Windows 8 as people don't see it as a true consumer-orientated offering, which is what many people look for when buying.
In the future and the rise of wearable devices such as smartwatches or glasses could prove to be the next big shift that realigns the market, with Apple and Google well placed to meet this trend, Atwal added.
“Android and iOS have the right interfaces for interacting on devices through systems such as gesture and voice [control] that can provide new interactive capabilities,” he added.
Wearables appear set for strong growth in 2014 with Google unveiling its Android Wear operating system and firms such as Intel buying up-and-coming device makers, such as Basis Science.
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