Microsoft is biggest loser as Gartner says tablets and smartphones will take over laptops and PCs soon

A report published by Gartner predicts that the combined worldwide shipment of PCs, tablets and mobile phones will grow from 2.21 billion in 2012 to 2.96 billion by 2017 which represents a growth of a third over just five years.

The number of tablets are expected to grow by four fold over that period with the number of tablets shipped surpassing that of desktop and laptops possibly as early as 2015.

The research firm stressed on the fact that the change is a permanent one brought about by a change in user behaviour rather than one caused by the current economic climate.

The traditional market for desk-based and notebook personal computers is expected to shrink from 341 million in 2012 to a mere 271 million by 2017 while the number of tablets being shipped is expected to shoot up from 116 million to nearly 468 million.

Worth noting that Gartner sees Ultramobile segment (which is the name given to thin-and-light laptops as well as hybrid devices) grow by nearly 10 times over five years, to around 96 million units.

The growth of tablets is fuelled by emerging markets where, according to Gartner, users are looking to complement their mobile phones with a “companion”.

And while the shipment of Windows-based devices is expected to grow between 2012 and 2017, that of Android and Apple’s iOS and MacOS are likely to experience triple-digit growth.

It’s interesting to note that Gartner doesn’t list Chrome OS or Windows Phone, both of which are small but promising platforms.

It’s also worth underlining the fact that the research firm expects the “Other OS” category to shrink significantly, by nearly two thirds which would indicate a swift transition to a smartphone landscape dominated by Android.

The press release about the Gartner report can be found here.