Smartphone and PC Shipments Slump

John Lister's picture

The market for smartphones, tablets and PCs will shrink for a second straight year according to a newly-published forecast. The phone slump could mean the lowest number of units leaving manufacturers since 2009.

Gartner, which produced the figures, says factors behind the trend include the economy, changing consumer behavior, and a lack of innovation.

The forecast isn't for sales but rather shipments: that is, the number of devices which manufacturers send to retailers. It's affected by both recent sales and forecast for future sales. For example, shipments may drop if retailers have a surplus of devices in stock.

However, shipment forecasts are often more accurate than sales forecasts as they can be based on actual manufacturer production levels.

Phone Figures at 14-Year Low

Gartner's mobile phone shipment forecast is for 1.34 billion units in 2023, down from 1.4 billion in 2022 and 1.43 billion in 2021. It would be the lowest figure since 2009. The PC forecast is for 287 million units. That's a 6.8 percent drop in 2023, following on from a 16 percent drop in 2022. The tablet forecast is a 2.9 percent drop to 133 million units. (Source:

Economic concerns, particularly inflation, are one of the biggest forecast reasons for the decline in shipments (and ultimately in sales). However, other societal factors are in play. One big change is that consumers are waiting an average of six to nine months longer before replacing smartphones. In many cases they are switching to monthly service deals when initial contract periods end rather than upgrading to a new handset right away.

Buyers Unimpressed With New Models

One theory is that people used their smartphones less when working from home during the pandemic, making it feel less of a priority for spending. Another theory is that the improvements with each new generation of handset are getting less dramatic.

The PC figures may be less about sales and more about stock levels. The combination of people needing new PCs to work from home and significant supply chain problems has meant the number of computers that manufacturers make and the number that consumers want to buy have often been out of sync. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Have you changed your device buying habit in recent years? Do you intentionally go longer between upgrades? Do new phone models offer enough worthwhile improvements to regularly upgrade?

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