It’s 2017 and we just wrote a headline that delivers some excellent news for the personal computer market. After years of being cannibalized by the tablet and big-screen smartphone market, PCs appear to be gearing up for a big comeback in the next five years, according to the latest market analysis from Daniel Research Group.
In its most recent U.S. Personal Device Forecast, DRG estimates that the total market for PCs, which includes both desktop and mobile computers, will increase by 2.3 percent. That number might seem tiny, but it shows that the market for computers, which was once thought to be on the way out, is making a strong comeback.
DRG splits the PC market into the desktop and mobile PC segment, and the performance of each subset of the PC market is expected to head in different directions. DRG’s analysis projects that desktop PCs will experience a 10.6 percent decrease in compound annual growth rate as total shipments fall off from 17.7 million units in 2017 to just 9.6 million units in 2021. Mobile PCs on the other hand will go from 44.8 million shipments this year to 61.1 million in 2021 for a CAGR of 6.2 percent. In total, the PC market will go from 62.5 million shipments in 2017 to 70.7 million in 2021 for that 2.3 percent growth figure.
“While we expect Desktop and Mobile PC Shipments to be slightly down this year (-0.8 percent) we anticipate healthy growth in 2018 (4.3 percent) before the economic slow-down moderates growth in 2019-2020 (1.6 percent, 1.9 percent), followed by a return to higher growth (4.6 percent) in 2020 as the economy recovers,” DRG said in a statement emailed to Dealerscope. “Over the same period, Mobile Phones shipments will continue slow growth in line with historic rates, while Tablets shipments will fall sharply losing share to Mobile PCs and Smartphones.”
According to DRG, three key factors will impact the total personal computing and communications market over the next five years: a “mild economic slowdown in 2019-2020, an acceleration of tablet and desktop replacement rates, and the contraction of the tablet market.
Starting with the latter point, DRG’s estimates show that the tablet market might’ve reached its peak in 2016. Tablets’ share of the total mobile computers sold hit 43.1 percent in 2016, according to DRG. That number is expected to begin decreasing this year (topping out at 41.9 percent) and hit a low of 31.5 percent by 2021. Reasons for the decline, according to DRG, include an increasing preference in both the consumer and enterprise markets for “traditional and convertible” mobile PCs over tablets. Further, whereas consumers turned to tablets for their larger screens and better streaming content presentation, larger smartphones are starting to become the preferred method of content delivery.
Additionally, DRG anticipates that the device replacement cycle will help the market over the next few years.
All forms of PCs are expected to see their length of time between replacement shorten. The mobile PC market will see a decrease of just a few months from 7.9 to 7.6 years for the replacement cycle, while the tablet market will shave off a full year from 5.9 to 5.0 years. The desktop market will have the biggest decrease, falling to 3.7 years between replacements, down from 6.4 years.