The PC market will return to growth next year, according to analyst group Gartner.
The firm said that the PC market will grow by 0.4 per cent next year, but only after declining by another eight per cent this year.
This follows the launch of new microprocessors from Intel (and soon AMD) alongside a generation-leapfrogging shift in graphics processor technology, and the excitement generated by the introduction of affordable-ish virtual reality headsets.
However, according to research analyst Ranjit Atwal, sales of bog-standard PCs will continue to go down the pan, with the engine of growth taken up by premium PCs, particularly so-called ‘ultramobiles' - thin and light laptops or devices with removable keyboards so that they can be used as tablets.
Traditional desktop and laptop PCs will fall from 216 million units this year to 199 million in 2018, according to Atwal, while sales of ultramobiles will rise by more than 50 per cent from 49 million to 75 million.
"We expect premium ultramobiles will start benefiting from the collective performance and integration of the latest Intel CPU platform and Windows 10," said Atwal.
He added that the adverse effects of currency movements on prices in markets such as the UK will have diminished by next year.
"Device vendors are mitigating the currency depreciation of the pound in two ways. First, they are taking advantage of the likelihood of a single-digit decline in PC component costs in 2016," said Atwal.
"Second, they will ‘de-feature' their PCs to keep prices down. With these changes, Gartner expects PC prices in the UK to increase by less than 10 percent in 2017."
The market for proper tablet computers is expected to continue falling for another couple of years.
The Microsoft Surface ultramobile has taken off after a slow start when Windows 8 was launched in 2012, but Apple's answer, the iPad Pro, which Gartner classifies as a tablet computer, has struggled to find a significant niche in corporates.
Atwal claimed that the Apple iPad Pro, despite its size and added power, is regarded primarily as a media consumption device by prospective buyers, rather than a serious device for work, business and content creation.
However, Gartner expects the decline in sales of tablets to stabilise in 2017 or 2018.
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