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Tablets and Smartphones Cause Decline in PC and Laptop Computer Market, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The desktop and laptop personal computer (PC) market is suffering from intense competition from smartphones, and to a lesser extent from

 tablet computers.  Global PC/laptop shipments were forecasted to reach 263 million units in 2017, down from 270 million units in 2016, according to Gartner.  Shipments in 2018 were expected to reach 265 million units and rise to 269 million units in 2019.

Although larger computers such as PCs remain better suited for such tasks as document production, recent sales of smartphones are immense thanks to their mobility.  Software and online services available for use on smartphones have advanced dramatically, particularly in terms of mobile apps.

Tablets are important platforms for accessing entertainment, games and news, in addition to business applications.  Tablet sales, while still substantial, slowed starting in mid-2014, a trend which continued through 2017.  Analysts at IDC estimated that global tablet shipments declined by 5.4% in the in the third quarter of 2017, compared to the same quarter in 2016.  Growing demand for smartphones combined with the lengthening replacement cycle of tablets and the strengthening position of traditional PCs suppressed the tablet market.  The third quarter of 2017 marked the twelfth consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline.  Apple’s iPad remained the market leader, followed by tablets from Samsung and Amazon.  iPads and other high-end tablets are challenged by several factors, including 1) some consumers are switching to smartphones with larger than normal screens, eliminating the need for a tablet; 2) for many users, tablets are not “must-have” devices, consequently they may be less likely to trade up for newer tablets to replace old models; and 3) low-priced tablets with ample features are now available from several makers.

Meanwhile, smartphone sales are expected to rise to 1.9 billion units in 2018, according to Gartner, compared to 1.5 billion in 2016.  Market leaders are Samsung, Apple and Huawei.



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