Shipments of devices across the world - spanning PCs, tablets and mobile phones - will total 2.2 billion units in 2019, representing a decline of 3.3 per cent year-over-year.
According to new Gartner findings, the mobile phone market is set to record the worst performance of these device types, declining by 3.8 per cent.
“The current mobile phone market of 1.7 billion shipments is around 10 per cent below the 1.9 billion shipments reached in 2015,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director of Gartner. “If mobile phones don’t provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences, users won’t upgrade them, and will consequently increase these devices’ life spans.”
Atwal said the trend for lengthening mobile phone life span began in 2018 and will continue through 2019, with Gartner predicting that the high-end phone life span will increase from 2.6 years to nearly 2.9 years through 2023.
As a result, the analyst firm estimates that sales of smartphones will decline by 2.5 per cent in 2019, which would be the "worst decline ever" recorded.
Delving deeper, 5G phones are forecast to represent 51 per cent of total phone sales by 2023 following the launch of related-services in parts of the US, South Korea, Switzerland, Finland and the UK. “But it will take time for carriers to expand 5G coverage beyond major cities,” Atwal qualified.
By 2020, Gartner estimates that seven per cent of global communications service providers will have a "commercially viable" wireless 5G service.
“This will mark significant progress from 5G proofs of concept and commercial network construction work in 2018,” Atwal added.
In the first half of 2019, several phone manufacturers released 5G-enabled smartphones. To improve slowing smartphone sales, mobile manufacturers are looking to introduce more affordable 5G-enabled phones in 2020.
“In 2020, 5G-capable phones will represent 6 per cent of total sales of phones,” Atwal added. “As 5G service coverage increases, user experience will improve and prices will decrease. The leap will occur in 2023 when we expect 5G phones to account for 51 per cent of phone sales.”
Atwal said product managers should ensure high-end phones are differentiated by application integration with other devices, rather than relying just on 5G hardware evolution.
Meanwhile worldwide PC shipments totalled 63 million units and grew 1.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2019, our uncertainty for demand remains. PC shipments are estimated to total 257 million units in 2019, a one per cent decline from 2018.
“The ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China - and potential imposition of tariffs - are likely to impact the PC market this year,” Atwal said.
Following a strong Windows 10 migration among businesses in the second quarter of 2019, Gartner analysts maintain that 75 per cent of the business PC installed base will have migrated to Windows 10 by the beginning of 2021.
“Product managers need to continue promoting the end of Windows 7 support in 2020 as an incentive to migrate to Windows 10,” Atwal added.