Worldwide spending on desktop PCs and notebooks will hit $226 billion, a 7.2 percent drop from last year's total of $244 billion, according to a new forecast from technology analyst firm Gartner.
In 2015, shipments of desktops, notebooks and "premium ultramobile" PCs, a device class that includes the Apple MacBook Air, will drop 2.4 percent to 306 million, compared to 313.8 million last year. A strengthening U.S. dollar is partly to blame.
"The fall in PC purchases is primarily due to expected price increases by vendors in Europe and other regions, which is forced by local currency depreciation against the dollar," said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal in a statement. "The currency squeeze is forcing PC vendors to increase their prices in order to remain profitable and, as result, it is suppressing purchases. We expect businesses will delay purchases of new PCs, and consumers will delay or 'de-feature' their purchases."
By 2017, the PC market is expected to bounce back somewhat with shipments of 327.2 million units and $228 billion in sales, thanks to expected gains in the premium ultramobile segment.
Meanwhile, the smartphone market will continue to grow. Mobile phone makers are expected to ship over 1.9 billion devices in 2015, a 3.5 percent gain that helps explain why PC demand is suffering and tablet sales are beginning to level off. "Consumers will continue to prioritize spending on phones over PCs and tablets in 2015," predicted Roberta Cozza, a research director at Gartner.
Gartner also predicts that there will be some defections from the Android camp.
Cozza observed that high-end makers of Android devices "are finding it hard to differentiate and add value beyond technology and features," in a statement. "Furthermore, Apple's brand clout and ecosystem — alongside the new large-screen iPhone models — are strong alternatives."
Tablet makers are facing pressure from hybrid devices and phablets, particularly in emerging markets, she added. "Following rapid growth, the current mature consumer installed base for tablets is comparable to that of notebooks."
The non-premium ultramobile category, which includes tablets like the iPad and a smattering of convertible devices, will see shipments of nearly 237 million units, a 4.3 percent gain over 2014 (227 million units). By 2017, that figure is expected to reach 275 million.
In total, Gartner expects shipments of computing devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) to grow by 2.8 percent in 2015, reaching nearly 2.5 billion units. The market will continue to tick upward in 2016 and 2017 with shipments of nearly 2.59 billion and 2.65 billion units, respectively.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.