Johannesburg - Consumers' shift towards higher-priced premium smartphones is expected to boost overall smartphone shipment by as much as 5% this year. This is despite a slump in overall device shipments, IT insight company Gartner said on Wednesday.
Globally device shipments are expected to dip by 0.3% to 2.3 billion units this year, despite the smartphone growth.
But Gartner expected the shipments of PCs, tablets and smartphones to return to growth in 2018 with a 1.6% increase in shipments.
"Overall, the shipment growth of the device market is steady for the first time in many years," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "PC shipments are slightly lower while smartphone shipments are slightly higher, leading to a slight downward revision in shipments from the previous forecast."
The most conspicuous laggard once again was PC shipments, expected to drop by as much as 3% in 2017. Yet the decline was slower than previous years.
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Prices for components such as DRAM memory and SSD hard drives continued to rise, creating headwinds for the global PC market. But this also impacted the smartphone market to a lesser degree.
Smartphone shipments growth by 5% by the year-end will see it touch nearly 1.6 billion units.
"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.
According to recent research by market tracker, IDC Samsung and Apple maintained their leadership in the smartphone market while Chinese-based Huawei's strong growth cemented its number three position.
Huawei recently brought their flagship device the P10 to South Africa after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8, the LG G6 and the Sony XZ Premium.
READ: New Android smartphones in SA: how do they stack up?
The impact of component pricing on PCs is being reduced for buyers as producers absorb some of the cost into their margins. Producers opt to do this rather than risk losing their share in a competitive market.
"PC buyers continue to put quality and functionality ahead of price," said Atwal. "Many organisations 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."