Vendor price increases will put off customers from investing in new devices such as PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones this year, according to Gartner’s latest report.
The analyst estimated that combined global shipments of devices will reach 2.5 billion units in 2015, a 2.8 per cent increase over 2014, but in spending terms the market is on pace to hit $226bn (£151.5bn), a 7.2 per cent decline in current US dollar terms.
Taking away the impact of exchange-rate movements, the spend will actually decrease 3.1 per cent in 2015, with the global PC market on track to total 306 million units in 2015 – a 2.4 per cent drop on last year.
Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said: "The fall in PC purchases is primarily due to expected price increases by vendors in Europe and other regions, which is forced by local currency depreciation against the dollar.
“The currency squeeze is forcing PC vendors to increase their prices in order to remain profitable and, as a result, it is suppressing purchases. We expect businesses will delay purchases of new PCs, and consumers will delay or 'de-feature' their purchases. However, this reduction in purchasing is not a downturn, it is a reshaping of the market driven by currency."
According to the results, the most profitable segment of the device market is mobile phones, expected to total 1.9 billion units and grow 3.5 per cent this year. Gartner said cheaper smartphones will continue to appeal to customers and counter the need to increase prices.
Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, said: "Consumers will continue to prioritise spending on phones over PCs and tablets in 2015." Worldwide ultramobile shipments, which include tablets and clamshells, are on pace to total 237 million units in 2015, a 4.3 per cent increase over 2014.
Cozza added: "Following rapid growth, the current mature consumer installed base for tablets is comparable to that of notebooks. Not only is the tablet segment nearing saturation in mature markets, but the influx of hybrids and phablets will compete directly with tablets in emerging markets."
Gartner also predicted that an "increasing percentage" of high-end Android device users will move to Apple’s OS. "Android vendors at the high end are finding it hard to differentiate and add value beyond technology and features," said Cozza.
"Furthermore, Apple's brand clout and ecosystem — alongside the new large-screen iPhone models — are strong alternatives."
"We also estimate that, despite Apple's premium prices, the iOS base replacement cycle that started in the fourth quarter of 2014 with the larger iPhones will carry on into 2015," she added.
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