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2014: A Banner Year for 'Devices,' a Not-So-Bad Year for PCs

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- New research predicted computer devices of all types will have a very good 2014 despite the continuing decline of traditional personal computers.

According to Gartner combined worldwide shipments of all devices including desktop PCs, notebooks, tablets, hybrids, clamshells and mobile phones will climb to 2.5 billion units this year. That's a 6.9% boost over 2013 results which, in turn, was a 4.8% increase over 2012 results.

Researchers were quick to point out that while traditional PCs such as desktops and laptops continued their decline in popularity, that trend is slowing slightly.

The super-heated tablet business is reportedly maturing as well. According to Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal: "Tablet substitution of notebooks will start to dissipate from this year onwards as consumers and businesses align the right device (such as tablets or hybrid detachable/convertibles) fits with the right usage pattern."

Gartner said it believes retailers have to begin changing their sales strategies as tablet prices continue to decline. New tablet users will be looking for smaller screens and greater portability. Current tablet users will want better connectivity when choosing replacement models.

Mobile phones are expected to see the largest amount of overall success in the future. Gartner predicted the segment will see nearly 5% growth over 2013 numbers for a total of 1.9 billion units shipped this year. Most of that growth is expected to take place everywhere on the planet except for North America.

The gains are expected to come from the "lower end of the premium phones market" and the "higher end of the basic phone market." That means we will see more, varied models (price and feature-wise) from industry leaders Apple (AAPL - Get Report), Samsung, LG, Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report)/Nokia (NOK), HTC, BlackBerry (BBRY), as well as HP (HPQ), Lenovo/Motorola and a long list of China-based brands.

PC shipments are at the other end of the scale. They're expected to decline 6.6% from 2013, falling to an estimated 276.7 million units this year.

When viewed by operating system popularity, both Android and iOS are expected to continue their winning ways and Microsoft Windows software will remain in second place overall.

Again, North American shipments are a slightly different story. Gartner reported iOS tablet growth slowed in this region and believes Apple needs to "reinvigorate its replacement cycle" and announce newer models more often than its current schedule.

As for the Android operating system, Gartner said Google should be able to meet its goal of selling more than 1 billion devices in 2014.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

To submit a news tip, send an email to

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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