While there's been very little to be cheery about over recent years when it comes to the struggling PC market, a new report suggests that while shipments will continue to drop, the rate of decline will be slowed thanks to Microsoft's latest operating system.
According to research firm Gartner, consumers replacing their existing systems with Windows 10 machines means that shipments will only drop 3 per cent, a far cry from the alarming rates seen in previous years. The success of the OS alomng with component quality is a key factor notes Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal: "Many organizations are coming to the end of their evaluation periods for Windows 10, and are now increasing the speed at which they adopt new PCs as they see the clear benefits of better security and newer hardware."
However, vendor margins are likely to be smaller as they will absorb increased component prices in the fear of reducing their market share in a competitive market, says the report.
Outside of PCs, shipments will be largely positive meaning that "the device market is steady for the first time in many years", notes Atwal.
Smartphones shipments will grow 5 per cent in 2017 to reach nearly 1.6 billion units. Spending will continue to shift towards higher priced smartphones, with Gartner asserting that users are extending their purchasing cycles and need to be enticed by a device with different functionality in order to make a replacement.
"The Samsung S8 and S8 Plus have had a strong impact so far in 2017, with users undeterred by battery issues that affected the Note 7 at the end of 2016. This good start points to a rebound for Samsung," said Roberta Cozza research director at Gartner. "Continued premium smartphone growth in 2017 will also be highly dependent on the forthcoming anniversary edition of Apple's iPhone, which should bring more-drastic feature and design upgrades than the last few iterations. Recent announcements from Apple indicate that some new technologies and functionalities may also appear in the next iPhone in areas like augmented reality and improved machine learning.
However, the new tech that has often been branded as 'revolutionary', such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual personal assistants (VPAs) are yet to be proven as having a major impact.
"Today, the user experience with new technologies such as AI and VPAs is too often below the standard found in the rest of the device, and the cost to raise the standard quickly is prohibitive, relative to the benefits," said Atwal.
"In the near term, the device market will continue to be driven by incremental advances in traditional technology, but, looking three or four years ahead, the device market will begin to see very significant shifts in both usage patterns and form factors, especially as 5G wireless technology is introduced."