Traditional desktop and notebook computers and tablets won’t be as popular in the next four years, while interest in 2-in-1 devices and ultraslim notebooks will increase.
Analyst firm IDC said Wednesday that shipments of personal computing devices including traditional desktops and tablets will decline by 2.4% annually through 2023. However, convertible PCs and detachable tablets (sometimes referred to as 2-in-1 devices) should grow by 5% over the four-year period.
The bright spots will be for products like Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface tablets, IDC said.
IDC measures shipments, not final sales, but the IDC data is considered a solid way to track production, which affects chip vendors.
The forecast is somewhat shocking because IDC said all personal computing device shipments will drop below 400 million in 2020, the lowest amount since 2010, which was the year the iPad launched. For 2019, IDC said there will be shipments of 402 million personal computing devices of all types, dropping to 366 million in 2023, a decline of 9%.
IDC analyst Ryan Reith said vendors are currently concerned about tariffs on products from China, which could increase costs for consumers. Many vendors are trying to put their PCs into the sales channel early as a result.
Apple and Microsoft are continuing to push the detachable form factor, while other PC vendors are promoting convertible PCs. Apple on Tuesday announced support for a physical keyboard with a smart connector in the 2019 iPad which will “further cement detachables as a viable alternative to modern notebooks and convertibles,” said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani.
As with smartphones, 5G wireless will play a role in the growth of personal computing devices. By 2023, IDC said 10% of detachable tables will have built-in 5G, which comes in addition to another 29% running 4G. Also, ultraslims and convertibles with cellular connections will see double digit growth annually. On Monday, IDC said 5G will help prop up smartphone interest globally in 2020 after three straight years of declines.
By the numbers, IDC said 92 million desktops and workstations will ship in 2019, dropping to 77 million in 2023. Shipments of notebooks and mobile workstations will reach 73 million in 2019, dropping to nearly 48 million in 2023.
Slate tablets will reach 116 million in all of 2019, dropping to 94 million in 2023.
For product categories that will increase in shipments over the next four years, IDC said that 2-in-1 shipments will be nearly 41 million in 2019, growing to 47.5 million in 2023. Ultraslims will go up from 80 million to nearly 100 million.
IDC defines a convertible PC as a notebook computer equipped with an integrated keyboard and display that can be used in a traditional notebook configuration or a slate configuration. A detachable tablet is basically a slate tablet but can operate with a keyboard designed by the tablet maker for the actual tablet like the Surface or iPad Pro.