Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Device Shipments to Decline 14% in 2020 Due to Coronavirus Impact

Work from Home Trend Saved PC Market from Collapse

Global shipments of devices (PCs, tablets and mobile phones) are on pace to decline 13.6% in 2020, totaling 1.9 billion units, according to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc.

“The forecasted decline in the PC market in particular could have been much worse,” said Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner. “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.”

In 2020, PC shipments are expected to decline 10.5% (see Table 1). Shipments of notebooks, tablets and Chromebooks are forecast to decline slower than the PC market overall in 2020.

Table 1

Worldwide Shipments Forecast by Device Type (Millions of Units)

Device Type 2019 2020
Traditional PCs (Desk-Based and Notebook) 193,117 169,657
Ultramobiles (Premium) 69,597 65,528
Total PC Market 262,714 235,185
Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility) 143,958 133,258
Computing Device Market 406,672 368,443
Mobile Phones 1,753.911 1,498.549
Total Device Market 2,160.583 1,866.992

Due to rounding, some figures may not add up precisely to the totals shown.

Thin and light notebooks are listed under premium ultramobiles

Tablets and Chromebooks are listed under basic ultramobiles

Source: May (2020)

Working from Home Trend Will Fuel More Versatile Laptops

Gartner said that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 30% pre-pandemic. Overall, the work from home trend will make IT departments shift to more notebooks, tablets and Chrome devices for work. “This trend combined with businesses required to create flexible business continuity plans will make business notebooks displace deskbased PCs through 2021 and 2022,” said Mr. Atwal.

Phone Lifetimes to Extend to 2.7 Years in 2020

Shipments of total mobile phones are forecast to decline 14.6% in 2020, while smartphone shipments will achieve a slightly slower decline of 13.7% year over year to total 1.3 billion units in 2020.

“While users have increased the use of their mobile phones to communicate with colleagues, work partners, friends and families during lockdowns, reduced disposable income will result in fewer consumers upgrading their phones. As a result, phone lifetimes will extend from 2.5 years in 2018 to 2.7 years in 2020,” said Mr. Atwal.

5G Phones Will Represent 11% of Total Mobile Phone Shipments in 2020

In 2020, affordable 5G phones were expected to be the catalyst to increase phone replacements, but it will not be the case. 5G phones are now forecast to represent only 11% of total mobile phone shipments in 2020.

“The delayed delivery of some 5G flagship phones is an ongoing issue,” said Annette Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner. “Moreover, the lack of 5G geographical coverage along with the increasing cost of the 5G phone contract will impact the choice of a 5G phone.”

Overall, spending on 5G phones will be impacted in most regions apart from China, where continued investment in 5G infrastructure is expected, allowing providers in China to effectively market 5G phones.

Gartner clients can learn more in the report “Forecast: PCs, Ultramobiles and Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 2018-2024, April 2020 Update.”

Learn more about how to lead organizations through the disruption of coronavirus in the Gartner coronavirus resource center, a collection of complimentary Gartner research and webinars to help organizations respond, manage and prepare for the rapid spread and global impact of COVID-19.