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Report: OS Market Shifting With PC Decline

Traditional PC shipments will continue to decline over the next four years, even as global shipments increase for mobile phones, tablets and "ultramobile" devices, according to new first-quarter data announced today by Gartner Inc.

That not-unexpected assessment comes from Gartner's report, "Forecast: Devices by Operating System and User Type, Worldwide, 2010-2017 1Q3 Update." The PC shipment decline is affecting the operating system market share as well, with tough figures ahead for Microsoft.

The analyst and consulting firm defines "traditional PCs" as desktop and notebook computers, and expects that shipments of those traditional PCs will decrease by 7.6 percent in 2013. The addition of ultramobile devices to the market will slow that decline to 3.5 percent, but Gartner sees a permanent change in buyer behavior at play, with a shift to tablets.

"While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, in a released statement.

Gartner's prediction of a 7.6 percent decline in PC shipments this year is more pessimistic than IDC's forecast of a 1.3 percent decline.

Shipments of mobile phone devices will continue to predominate globally, and that trend will extend into 2017 when Gartner predicts there will be 2.1 billion mobile phone units shipped. The year 2017 also will see 468 million tablets, 272 million PCs and 96 million ultramobile devices shipped worldwide, per Gartner.

Global operating system market figures from the report show the Android mobile OS dominating the field over the next five years. Microsoft's Windows OSes will be in second place over that same time period. A close contender to Microsoft's OSes will be operating systems from Apple (iOS and Mac OS). Gartner's data show Microsoft's and Apple's OSes running neck-and-neck in the overall global OS market-share race (see table).

Worldwide Devices Shipments by Operating System (Thousands of Units)
Operating System

2012

2013

2014

2017

Android

497,082

860,937

1,069,503

1,468,619

Windows

346,457

354,410

397,533

570,937

iOS/MacOS

212,899

293,428

359,483

504,147

RIM

34,722

31,253

27,150

24,121

Others

1,122,213

871,718

702,786

396,959

Total

2,213,373

2,411,796

2,556,455

2,964,783

Note: Devices include notebooks and desk-based PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones.
Source: Gartner (April 2013)

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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