In a nutshell: It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a crushing effect on many industries, with sales falling off a cliff and widespread job losses. Now, research firm Gartner has given its forecast for all PC, tablet, and mobile phone shipments for 2020, showing a decline of 13.6 percent across the whole year.

Of all the segments, phones were hit hardest by Covid-19. The industry experienced its biggest decline in history earlier this year, with quarterly production hitting record lows. Gartner writes that phones, which includes both the smart and dumb variety, will see a 2020 shipment fall of 14.6 percent compared to last year, with smartphones down 13.7 percent YoY.

Gartner notes that while we’re using our handsets more than ever to stay in touch with friends, family, and for work reasons, reduced disposable income and job security fears have seen fewer consumers upgrade their devices. The average life of a phone has increased from 2.5 years in 2019 to 2.7 years in 2020.

It was expected that 5G devices would encourage more people to upgrade this year, but it’s predicted that these will represent just 11 percent of total mobile shipments in 2020. The pandemic has delayed the launch of some 5G flagships, while the lack of coverage and the cost of a 5G handset is having an impact.

PC Shipments are forecast to be down 10.5 percent this year, though Gartner says this could have been “much worse.” With Covid-19 forcing so many to work and study from home, laptops, desktops, and peripherals saw a surge in sales. "Education and government establishments also increased spending on those devices to facilitate e-learning," writes Gartner.

With the work-from-home trend expected to continue after lockdowns are eased, it’s predicted that more businesses will replace traditional desktop computers with notebooks, tablets, and Chrome devices.

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