After a disappointing 2015, PC vendors can look forward to better times ahead. But first, they'll need to brace for yet another dip in the market, according to Gartner, a technology research firm.
Although overall device shipments – a broad category that includes PCs, tablets and mobile phones – is expected climb 1.9 percent to 2.4 billion units in 2016, the PC market will drop another 1 percent this year to 287 million units compared to 290 million units last year. Fortunately, Gartner's projections for 2017 are rosier, thanks in part to Microsoft's latest operating system.
Next year, enterprise demand will help PC makers reverse their losses. The analyst group expects vendors to ship 299 million PCs in 2017, a 4 percent year-over-year gain. In 2018, that figure will jump to 312 million.
According to Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal, businesses are in a hurry to upgrade to Windows 10. "We expect that businesses will deploy Windows 10 faster than with previous Windows upgrades," he said in a statement.
A recent Gartner survey of 3,000 professionals revealed that 80 percent of businesses plan to complete their Windows 10 testing within 12 months. Sixty percent of respondents told Gartner that they would be done within nine months.
"Given the shorter testing and evaluation period, many businesses could start to migrate by the end of 2016," he said in a statement.
Enterprises will be outfitting their workforces with sleeker, more adaptable PCs next year powered by Intel's sixth-generation Core "Skylake" processors, predicted Atwal. "By the end of 2017, many [businesses] are looking to move as much as 40 percent of their installed base onto new Windows 10 devices, mainly driven by the appeal hybrid touch-screen [2-in-1s]. This will be the catalyst for growth in the PC market in 2017.
The tablet market will dip slightly in 2016 to 195 million units from 196 million last year, before climbing to 198 million units in 2018. Mobile phone vendors will ship 2.44 billion units in 2016, up 2.6 percent compared to last year as smartphones continue their assault on feature phones.
"We are witnessing a shift to basic phones in the smartphone market," said Roberta Cozza, a research director at Gartner, in a statement. "Users are also opting to replace within the basic smartphone category without necessarily moving to high-end smartphones, especially in China and some other emerging markets."
Gartner estimates that by the end of 2016, smartphones will constitute 82 percent of the mobile phone market, a year-over-year increase of 15 percent.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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