Worldwide combined shipments of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones will remain flat in 2017, according to a forecast from Gartner Inc. The firm projects that global shipments of these devices will total 2.3 billion in 2017, the same as 2016 estimates.

There were nearly 7 billion phones, tablets and PCs in use in the world by the end of 2016. But Gartner does not expect any growth in shipments of traditional devices until 2018, when it expects a small increase in ultramobiles and mobile phone shipments.

"The global devices market is stagnating,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “Mobile phone shipments are only growing in emerging Asia/Pacific markets, and the PC market is just reaching the bottom of its decline.”

In addition to declining shipment growth for traditional devices, average selling prices are also beginning to stagnate because of market saturation and a slower rate of innovation, Atwal said. The PC market will benefit from a replacement cycle toward the end of the forecast period, returning to growth in 2018, the firm said. Device vendors are increasingly trying to move into faster-growing emerging device categories.

"This requires a shift from a hardware-focused approach to a richer value-added service approach," Atwal said. "As service-led approaches become even more crucial, hardware providers will have to partner with service providers, as they lack the expertise to deliver the service offerings themselves."

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