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Global device shipments creep up, driven by 5G mobiles

Global device shipments will grow in 2020 by 0.9%, with 5G mobile phones gaining market share rapidly, increasing from 12% in 2020 to 43% in 2022, according to Gartner’s latest device forecast.

Devices includes PCs, tablets and mobile phones, and according to Gartner shipments will total 2.16 billion units in 2020. In 2019, global shipments of devices totaled 2.15 billion units.

Gartner research senior director Ranjit Atwal says, “2020 will witness a slight market recovery. Increased availability of 5G handsets will boost mobile phone replacements, which will lead global device shipments to return to growth in 2020.”

The worldwide mobile phone market is on course to grow by 1.7% in 2020, Gartner states. Shipments of smartphones were weak in 2019, recording a 2% decline year over year, but are expected to grow in 2020, particularly in Greater China and emerging markets in Asia/Pacific.

Gartner estimates that 5G models will account for 12% of mobile phone shipments in 2020, and that will reach 43% by 2022.

Atwal says, “From 2020, Gartner expects an increase in 5G phone adoption as prices decrease, 5G service coverage increases and users have better experiences with 5G phones. The market will experience a further increase in 2023, when 5G handsets will account for over 50% of the mobile phones shipped.”

While 5G phone adoption increases, PC shipments continue to decline. According to Gartner, even after experiencing a return to growth in 2019, PC shipments are still forecast to decrease in 2020 and beyond.

Through 2020, this market will be affected by the end of the migration to Windows 10. After three years of growth in the professional PC market, replacement levels will decrease, Gartner states.

However, there will be opportunities for professional PC replacements through 2020. The Chinese government launched the locally manufactured ‘secure and reliable PC’ initiative, which stalled in 2019, but such initiatives should gain momentum in 2020, according to Gartner.

In addition, there is a ‘long tail’ of upgrades from small and midsize businesses across emerging regions as they react to Microsoft’s withdrawal of support for Windows 7 on 14 January 2020.

Gartner estimates that one billion PCs will have migrated to Windows 10 through 2020 - around 80% of all PCs in use.

Atwal says, “The PC market’s future is unpredictable because there will not be a Windows 11. Instead, Windows 10 will be upgraded systematically through regular updates. As a result, peaks in PC hardware upgrade cycles driven by an entire Windows OS upgrade will end.”