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Global device shipments to drop 14% in 2020 due to coronavirus

Gartner expects shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones to fall to 1.9 billion units.

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Shipments of devices are likely to decline globally by 13.6% in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a forecast by research firm Gartner on Tuesday. Shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones are on pace to hit 1.9 billion units this year. 

PC shipments are expected to decline by 10.5% this year, though Gartner said it could have been "much worse." The increase in people working from home has pushed IT departments to shift to more notebooks, tablets and Chromebook devices for workers, according to the firm. 

 "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," said Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner. "Education and government establishments also increased spending on those devices to facilitate e-learning."

Gartner also forecasts that mobile phone shipments will drop 14.6% as the lifetime for a phone increases from 2.5 years in 2018 to 2.7 years in 2020. 

"While users have increased the use of their mobile phones to communicate with colleagues, work partners, friends and families during lockdowns, reduced disposable income will result in fewer consumers upgrading their phones," said Atwal. 

This trend also extends to 5G phones. Although affordable 5G options were expected to encourage increased phone upgrades, 5G phones are now forecast to only fill 11% of total mobile phone shipments in 2020, according to Gartner. 

Read more: Best 5G phones in 2020