Forecast: Worldwide device shipments to top 2.5B in 2014, led by Android

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Worldwide shipments of mobile phones, tablets and PCs are on pace to reach 2.35 billion units in 2013, a 5.9 percent year-over-year increase, and will eclipse the 2.5 billion milestone in 2014, research firm Gartner forecasts.

Mobile phones will account for 1.8 billion devices shipped this year and 1.9 billion next year, with tablet shipments expected to grow 67.9 percent in 2013, reaching 202 million units and growing to 276 million units in 2014. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android will outstrip all other operating systems during the forecast period, powering 866 million devices shipped in 2013 and 1.06 billion in the year to follow. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows (including its Windows Phone mobile OS) is second with 2013 shipments of 339 million and 2014 shipments of 378 million, followed by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS/Mac platform at 296 million in 2013 and 354 million in 2014. BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) trails a distant fourth with 2013 shipments of 25 million, a figure expected to decline to 22 million in the year to come.

"Although the numbers seem to paint a clear picture of who the winner will be when it comes to operating systems in the device market, the reality is that today ecosystem owners are challenged in having the same relevance in all segments," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Apple is currently the more homogeneous presence across all device segments, while 90 percent of Android sales are currently in the mobile phone market and 85 percent of Microsoft sales are in the PC market."

Consumer demand for smartphones and tablets continues to spell doom for the PC market: Worldwide desktop and notebook PC shipments are forecast to total 305 million units in 2013, a 10.6 percent year-over-year decline, sliding to 289 million in 2014. Gartner notes that the steep decline in PC sales recorded during the first quarter of 2013 was the result of evolving user preferences but also an adjustment in the channel to make room for new products coming to market in the next six months.

"Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products," Milanesi said. "Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets."

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