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The PC market isn’t dead yet

Angus Kidman 11 January 2017

BurntComputer_Shutterstock

While we buy many more phones, computers still have a key role to play.

In 2016, the computer that everyone owns is a smartphone. What does that mean for sales of more conventional computers - you know, the ones with actual physical keyboards?

The table below shows Gartner's figures for computer and phone sales in 2016, and projections for the next three years. The computer figures include notebooks, desktops and ultramobiles. Gartner defines ultramobiles as devices which weigh under 1.6kg and with a screen size of 13.9 inches or less. Premium ultramobiles include devices such as the Surface Pro and MacBook Air, while Chromebooks and no-brand tablets fall into the basic and utility categories. Tablets are no longer a growth market.

Device type2016201720182019
Traditional PCs (desktops and notebooks)219205198193
Ultramobiles (premium)49617485
Ultramobiles (basic and utility)168165166166
Total computing devices market436432438444
Mobile phones1,8881,8931,9201,937
Total devices market2,3242,3242,3572,380

Phone sales are more than four times total computer sales, and Gartner is predicting that trend will continue over the next three years. It's also predicting that phone sales will also be relatively stable.

"The global devices market is stagnating. Mobile phone shipments are only growing in emerging Asia/Pacific markets, and the PC market is just reaching the bottom of its decline," analyst Ranjit Atwal said in a statement. "As well as declining shipment growth for traditional devices, average selling prices are also beginning to stagnate because of market saturation and a slower rate of innovation." That's bad news for manufacturers, but good news for consumers, since it suggests the trend of pricing remaining stable as new models emerge will continue.

Those numbers also reaffirm that computers aren't going anywhere. Yes, we might spend much more time on our phones than in front of our other screens, but there are plenty of productivity tasks that still require a full-blown machine. And remember: someone has to write the apps that run on your phone, and they won't be doing that using only a touchscreen.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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