Gartner: Worldwide device shipments will drop by 14% due to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the tech industry as companies called off events for the year and moved them online. The pandemic has also caused a drop in the demand for hardware as companies have postponed major hardware launches scheduled for 2020.

According to a new report from Gartner, device shipments for 2020 are expected to drop by 13.6%, totaling 1.9 billion units. To put things in perspective, 2.16 billion devices were shipped in 2019 including over 1.7 billion mobile phones followed by over 400,000 computing devices. In 2020, the shipments of mobile phones and computing devices are expected to drop by 14.6% and 10.5% respectively.

Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner said:

The forecasted decline in the PC market in particular could have been much worse. However, government lockdowns due to COVID-19 forced businesses and schools to enable millions of people to work from home and increase spending on new notebooks, Chromebooks and tablets for those workers. Education and government establishments also increased spending on those devices to facilitate e-learning.

Gartner further noted that 2021 and 2022 may see a rise in the shipment of portable devices like Chromebooks, laptops, and tablets as more and more people are now working from home. This "will make business notebooks displace desk-based PCs through 2021 and 2022.”

Lastly, Gartner also predicted a rise in 5G smartphones but that didn't happen due to the coronavirus pandemic. Gartner expected 5G phones to account for 11% of the total mobile shipments but "the delayed delivery of some 5G flagship phones" combined with the limited geographical coverage stopped the broader 5G adoption in 2020.

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