Gartner: Device Shipments to Fall 14 Percent in 2020

Posted on May 26, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile with 8 Comments

The Coronavirus pandemic will trigger a 14 percent decline in PC, tablet, and phone sales this year, Gartner claims.

“The forecasted decline in the PC market in particular could have been much worse,” Gartner senior research director Ranjit Atwal said in a prepared statement. “However, government lockdowns due to COVID-19 forced businesses and schools to enable millions of people to work from home and increase spending on new notebooks, Chromebooks, and tablets for those workers. Education and government establishments also increased spending on those devices to facilitate e-learning.”

The shortfall will vary by device type, Gartner says. Sales of traditional PCs—both desktops and notebook PCs—will fall by about 13.5 percent, from 193.1 million units in 2019 to 169.6 million in 2020. And sales of premium ultra-mobiles will fall 5.7 percent, from 70 million units in 2019 to 65.5 million in 2020. Overall, PC sales will fall 10.5 percent this year, from 262.7 million units in 2019 to 235.2 million.

“Shipments of notebooks, tablets, and Chromebooks are forecast to decline slower than the PC market overall in 2020,” Gartner notes.

Sales of ultra-mobiles—the category into which Gartner lumps tablets and Chromebooks—is expected to fall by 7.43 percent, from 144 million units in 2019 to 133.3 million this year. And mobile phone sales, meanwhile, are expected to shrink 14.6 percent, from 2.16 billion units in 2019 to 1.87 billion units this year. “Smartphone shipments will achieve a slightly slower decline of 13.7 percent year over year to total 1.3 billion units in 2020,” Gartner says. And “phone lifetimes will extend from 2.5 years in 2018 to 2.7 years in 2020.”

These are just predictions, of course, and I’d prefer to compare these figures to IDC’s estimates. But it’s still an interesting peek at where this year may land. And if roughly accurate, I’m a bit surprised it’s not worse.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Gartner: Device Shipments to Fall 14 Percent in 2020”

  1. madthinus

    These are still pretty big contractions. The real question is if it is permanent or if we see a pent up demand being released next year?

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to madthinus:

      When everything returns to normal so should the tech sector for device sales.

    • ulrichr

      In reply to madthinus:

      I think it will vary based on device type and usage. 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment, so many of them will not be looking at upgrading their smartphone. However, for the lucky employed, work may now be changing, so they now need a 'better' laptop, plus monitors, and peripherals at home. That's why I think the PC figures were not as bad as they might have been.


      Given the turmoil in the economy and in the political landscape, I doubt that this situation will be 'normal' in the next year or so.

  2. Jorge Garcia

    So quick math, 14 x 2 = 28. Technology hardware maker stocks should go UP 28% as a result.

  3. christian.hvid

    One device type that Gartner apparently hasn't been looking at separately is the kind of laptop that is sometimes called "desktop replacement" - that is, large screen (16-18"), high performance, relatively heavy laptops that aren't ideal for travel but can easily be moved between your bedroom, living room and home office. If any category is going to show increased sales this year, it's this.

  4. coeus89

    Early on i saw articles about how demand for PCs was through the roof but supply was hit hard. I wonder how much the drop unit sales is because of supply troubles.

    • mattbg

      In reply to coeus89:

      Agree. I have no idea how this fits into the grand scheme of things, but at my rather large employer the hiring process is complicated by the fact that there's no process to get a standard-issue new laptop out to the new hire. The same process is used to do refreshes of out-of-lease laptops every 3 years.


      And so what they are doing for new hires is giving them virtual PCs... which could easily become a long-term thing (although I would quit if I had to use a virtual PC).


      No idea what they'd do for the snowflakes that will only use a Mac.

  5. wright_is

    You musn't forget that in 2019 a lot of corporates were busy replacing hundreds or thousands of old Windows 7 PCs with new Windows 10 PCs, so there was an "artificial" increase last year, caused by the swap - putting Windows 10 on a 2010 business PC wasn't worth the licensing cost for us, so we replaced all the old kit with new ultra-compact desktop PCs.

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