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Device shipments to increase by 2.1% in 2018

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By 2021, 9% of smartphones sold will support 5G.
By 2021, 9% of smartphones sold will support 5G.

Worldwide shipments of devices - PCs, tablets and mobile phones - totalled 2.28 billion units in 2017, according to a device forecasts from research firm Gartner.

The research firm says shipments are on course to reach 2.32 billion units in 2018, an increase of 2.1% with two markets driving the overall growth. First is the mobile phone market, led by the high-end smartphone segment, it adds. Second is the premium ultra-mobile market, where thin and light Apple and Microsoft Windows 10 devices are stimulating higher demand, adds Gartner.

"Consumers have many technologies to choose from, which poses two main challenges for vendors. The first is to compete for wallet share, given how many devices consumers own. The second is to deliver value and maintain relevance - to offer the right device to the right audience," says Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "We will see more buyers focusing on value, rather than just price, and therefore considering higher-priced devices."

On the hand, Gartner forecasts that shipments of traditional PCs will decline by 5.4% in 2018, with notebooks showing the steepest decline (6.8%). The premium ultra-mobile market will be the only PC segment to achieve growth in 2018, without which the overall PC market would decline, it says.

"DRAM [dynamic random access memory] costs have doubled since June 2016, and PC providers have increased PC prices since the first half of 2017. This trend is likely to continue into 2018, until DRAM cost trends reverse."

Gartner also notes mobile phone shipments will increase by 2.6% in 2018, with the total amounting to 1.9 billion units. In 2018, smartphone sales will grow by 6.2%, to represent 87% of mobile phone sales.

"We expect Apple smartphone sales to grow by more than the market average in 2018, with the launch of new models fuelling stronger replacement cycles," says Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

In 2018, smartphone vendors will focus on delivering more compelling personalised experiences, via on-device artificial intelligence (AI), virtual personal assistants and more natural user interfaces, but also through biometrics and further enhancements to display and camera features, says Gartner. The research firm expects to see some of these unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona.

Gartner also forecast that 5G phones will reach the market in 2019, when rollouts of 5G networks will start in select countries, such as the US and South Korea.

"We predict that, by 2021, 9% of smartphones sold will support 5G," says Cozza. Overall, 5G will be a significant driver of video and streaming services, as it will bring faster uplinks and support new AI applications."

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