Over 50 per cent of all users will turn to a smartphone or tablet before reaching for a desktop or laptop for all online activities by 2018, according to market research firm Gartner.
In a statement, Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner, said: “The use pattern that has emerged for nearly all consumers [including workers], based on device accessibility, is the smartphone first as a device that is carried when mobile, followed by the tablet that is used in longer sessions, with the PC increasingly reserved for more complex tasks.”
Baker said that this behaviour pattern would eventually include wearables like smartwatches. He also expects gesture and voice input to gain popularity and content consumption to surpass content creation, all of which pulls users farther away from the PC.
Baker expects tablet sales to be strongest in emerging countries such as India. Sales in the United States and other developed countries will drop as users there find that multiple generations of older tablets can still be very effective at getting the job done.
Gartner’s prediction for the growing dominance of smartphones and tablets comes at a time when PC shipment declines have started to slow.
“In 2014, the PC market proved it wasn’t dead,” said Tom Mainelli, an analyst with IDC.
In 2014, desktop PC shipments are expected to reach 133.5 million units, down 2.3 per cent from 2013. The figures noted in 2013 represented a decline of 7.8 per cent from the previous year, said the IDC.
Meanwhile, laptop shipments are expected to reach 173.4 million units this year, which is a 2.9 per cent drop from 2013. In 2012, laptop shipments dropped by 11.3 per cent.
“PCs still have a big role to play, primarily in commercial but also in consumers’ lives,” said Mainelli.