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According to the latest Gartner device shipment forecasts, combined PC, tablet, and mobile phone shipments are expected to reach 2.4 billion units this year, with mobile phones comprising 78% of shipments. At the end of 2013, mobile phone shipments will have increased 7.4% year over year.  Considering that 1.7 billion mobile phones shipped last year, that’s still quite an impressive number.   Meanwhile, PC shipments are expected to decline 7 .6% this year.  What a coincidence…


Even more impressive is projected tablet growth. In 2013, tablet shipments will have increased 70% year over year. In terms of shipments, the mobile phone to tablet ratio last year was 15:1. By the end of 2017, it will be 5:1. In addition, Gartner forecasts that tablet shipments will surpass PC shipments sometime between 2014 and 2017.


An even more interesting (to me, at least) projection is the growth of ultramobile [PC] shipments. (According to Wikipedia, an ultramobile PC is “a small form factor version of a pen computer…smaller than sub-notebooks and operated like tablet PCs using a touchscreen.”) In 2012, ultramobile PCs comprised 0.4% of shipments, and by the end of 2017 they will comprise 3.2% of device shipments.  However, considering Windows 8’s failure to gain traction in the PC market as well as their lack of success in capturing a sizeable share of the smartphone market, are Gartner’s estimates for ultramobile PCs too optimistic? With the availability of affordable and fast tablets, will the ultramobile PC become obsolete while the tablet eventually reigns supreme as consumers’ go-to computing device?


Regardless of whether ultramobiles will become as popular as tablets or not, the data indicates that global computing consumption is shifting from traditional PCs to ultra-thin, light and portable devices, which would naturally mean a shift is occurring in consumers’ online/mobile preferences as well as in their comfort making purchases through their mobile devices. Marketers should reconsider their marketing budget and strategies to capture and optimize this coming boom in mobile, tablets, and ultramobile PCs.




Based on the charts above, below are some key highlights and takeaways I think are important for mobile marketers & advertisers to consider.


  • Six times as many mobile phones as desktop/notebook PCs will ship this year.
  • Tablets to surpass PCs in shipments in the next 1-4 years.
  • Ultramobile PCs shipments currently comprise a fraction of device shipments worldwide, but will see major growth over the next four years.
  • Android shipments to outnumber iOS shipments 3:1 by the end of 2017.


  • It’s becoming more essential for marketers to shift ad spend from online desktop advertising and marketing to mobile and tablet spend.
  • Likewise, it’s becoming more important for online advertising companies to shift their product focus from the online channel to the mobile/tablet channel.
  • Considering the large increase in shipments of Android devices over the next few years, marketers worldwide will have to take into consideration this growth in Android device shipments and what it would entail in terms of customizing mobile campaigns to target the right audience.


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