PC sales sliding on “replacement indecision”

To upgrade, or not to upgrade, that is the question a lot of PC and tablet users are having trouble answering, according to a report Wednesday from the consulting group Gartner.

The result: the research firm Gartner predicts an overall slide of 1 percent in this year’s worldwide shipments of all types of devices ranging from desktops to skinny ultramobile laptops, tablets and clamshell and mobile phones.

Only mobile phones as a separate category are escaping the slide. They’re are on track to increase 1.4 percent in 2015, with the smartphone segment looking at a possible 14 percent increase in shipments this year, according to Gartner’s analysis of sales this year.

But the other categories are contracting this year, bringing the oveall total down, the research firm said.

Gartner is attributing it to “Replacement Indecision,” which it said is driven in part by price increases caused by currency devaluations abroad and in part by people just keeping their devices longer.

“Users are extending the lifetime of their devices, or deciding not to replace their devices at all,” said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.

That’s bad news for companies that make the things or supply parts for them, including the semiconductor industry. But it’s not a surprise. Sales of PCs, which have been dropping for some time, forcing Intel, for example, to revise a 2015 earnings forecast.

Global PC shipments are expected to total 291 million units, a decline of 7.3 percent from a year earlier, and to show flat growth in 2016.

Ultramobile shipments – 199 million this year – will represent a 12 percent decline from a year before. Tablet shipments will be down 13 percent from 2014, the company said.

Next year, the market should be less challenged by currency impacts while Windows 10 products on Intel’s new Skylake chip should increase volume, leading to 4 percent growth in 2017, Garnter said.

By 2017, a recovering market should see shipments of 2 billion mobile phones, with smartphones 89 of that market, said Annette Zimmermann, a Gartner research director.

Photo: Graphic of laptop (Mercury News archives)


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