We love tech, so why do device shipments keep slipping?

Angus Kidman 10 October 2016

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Total gadget shipments will fall 3% in 2016.

Research firm Gartner predicts that total device shipments across PCs, tablets and mobile phones will fall by 3% this year. Having fallen by 0.75% in 2015, it seems we're falling out of love with our gadgets.

The chart below shows Gartner's shipment figures (past and predicted) across all those device categories. Ultramobiles in this table includes tablets, convertibles, Chromebooks and other lower-powered but still somewhat computer-like devices.

Sales will increase slightly by 2018, but it's going to be rough for hardware manufacturers. So what's going on here?

Declines in PC sales aren't a new thing, since much of our computing attention now goes directly to smartphones. The only real prospect for growth is businesses shifting to new hardware to run Windows 10. Although that operating system is already one year old, business upgrade cycles remain much slower.

Smartphone sales are suffering from a different phenomenon: we don't feel the urge to upgrade so often. Many of the features in this year's latest phones, such as the Google Pixel and the iPhone 7, have more to do with software than the hardware itself.

Settling for an older phone doesn't always feel like a compromise. Tidying my study over the weekend, I found a dozen smartphones. I get sent a lot of review devices, so I'm hardly typical in terms of volume, but the fact remains that many of them would still be perfectly serviceable if I accidentally flushed my current phone down the toilet. Alas, my older BlackBerry devices no longer fall into that category.

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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