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2.5bn devices to ship in 2014, says Gartner

Combined shipments of devices, including PCs, tablets and mobile phones, to grow by 6.9%

2.5bn devices to ship in 2014, says Gartner
Gartner cautioned that the increasing pressure on margins will continue as the overall device market begins to saturate

Combined shipments of devices, including PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones, are projected to grow by 6.9% in 2014 to 2.5 billion units worldwide, according to research house Gartner.

And while sales of traditional PCs will continue to hamper the overall growth of device, Gartner said that the rate at which tablets substitute PCs will begin to decline in 2014.

"Tablet substitution of notebooks will start to dissipate from this year onwards as consumers and businesses align the right device with the right usage pattern. As they do this, we will see where dedicated devices (such as tablets), or hybrid devices (detachable or convertible devices), fit in the overall portfolio of devices," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. 

Gartner cautioned that the increasing pressure on margins will continue as the overall device market begins to saturate. Vendors are expected to look at different ways to cope with the issue of lower margins, the research house said, explaining that customers are increasingly valuing features beyond price. For example, new tablet users look for smaller screens and greater portability, while current tablet users look for better connectivity with their tablet replacements, Gartner said.

The worldwide tablet market is expected to grow by 38.6% in 2014 as overall tablet adoption continues to grow faster in markets outside North America, according to Gartner's estimates.

"The adoption of tablets has been largely concentrated in the U.S., with the dominance of Apple. Market dynamics in other regions are different, as the uptake of lower cost, smaller, non-branded tablets, becomes more apparent," said Atwal. 

Mobile phones make up the largest segment of the devices market, and are expected to reach 1.9 billion units in 2014 - a 4.9% increase from 2013, Gartner said. Growth is expected to come from the lower end of the premium phone market, and the higher end of the basic phone market, the research firm added.

"While the lack of compelling hardware innovation marginally extended replacement cycles in 2013, we've witnessed an upgrade path in the emerging markets. Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, Asia/Pacific and Eastern Europe have all upgraded their phones, which will help to compensate for mature market weakness in the near term," said Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner. 

In terms of operating systems, Gartner said that Apple's iOS tablet growth has slowed in North America. The research firm advised that Apple should reinvigorate its replacement cycle. Google, meanwhile, should aim towards increasing Android's footprint - the operating system should have a market penetration of 1 billion devices this year, Gartner said.

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