A new market forecast by research specialist Gartner predicts that device shipments (that's PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones -- no toasters or coffee makers) will reach 2.5 billion units in 2014, up 7.6 percent from last year.
It also sees Android passing the one billion user mark across all devices this year, with 75 percent of Android volume coming from emerging markets by 2017.
It's mobile phones that are expected to dominate device sales this year with 1.9 billion being shipped, up five percent from 2013. Ultramobiles including tablets, hybrids and clamshells are predicted to show the fastest growth though with an increase of 54 percent.
"The device market continues to evolve, with buyers deciding which combination of devices is required to meet their wants and needs. Mobile phones are a must have and will continue to grow but at a slower pace, with opportunities moving away from the top-end premium devices to mid-end basic products," according to Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "Meanwhile users continue to move away from the traditional PC (notebooks and desk-based) as it becomes more of a shared content creation tool, while the greater flexibility of tablets, hybrids and lighter notebooks address users' increasingly different demands".
Gartner expects the worldwide tablet market to grow by 47 percent as lower average prices attract new customers. It sees tablets as being an additional device that consumers will carry everywhere but predicts this will see a move to smaller units. "Complementary smaller tablets will take over from the larger tablet form factors, providing the added mobility that consumers desire at a lower cost and will compete with hybrids for consumer attention," says Mr Atwal. Gartner's own consumer survey in the third quarter of last year showed that over two-thirds of tablets are used outside the home.
Meantime shipments of traditional PCs are set to continue their decline. Gartner predicts a seven percent drop over last year to 278 million units. Thanks to the growth in Windows ultramobiles though the overall PC market is predicted to stay flat after a 2013 decline of almost 10 percent.
In the operating system market Android will continue to dominate with Windows a distant second and iOS/Mac OS third. Annette Zimmerman, principal analyst at Gartner says, "There is no doubt that there is a volume versus value equation, with Android users also purchasing lower-cost devices compared to Apple users. Android holds the largest number of installed-base devices, with 1.9 billion in use in 2014, compared with 682 million iOS/Mac OS installed-base devices".