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Gartner: Microsoft risks becoming irrelevant if Windows Phone, tablet efforts fail

Published Apr 4th, 2013 8:45AM EDT
Microsoft Tablets Smartphones

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In case you haven’t noticed, tablet and smartphone sales have been surging lately as PC sales have started to tank. The latest research from Gartner shows that this trend won’t change anytime soon and the firm projects that PC shipments will shrink from 315 million in 2013 to 302 million in 2014, and down to just 272 million in 2017. Tablet shipments, on the other hand, are expected to explode from 197 million in 2013 to 468 million in 2017, while smartphone shipments are expected to rise from 1.9 billion in 2012 to 2.1 billion in 2013.

All of this has put something of a strain on Microsoft (MSFT), which was late to the game in both the smartphone and tablet spaces and is struggling to make a name for itself in the mobile realm. Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi tells The Guardian that “winning in the tablet and phone space is critical” for Microsoft if it wants to “remain relevant in this shift” from PCs to mobile devices. Milanesi says that getting beat in the mobile department will have big implications for Microsoft software going forward, and not just for the Windows operating system.

“We’re talking about hardware displacement here, but this shift also has wider implications for operating systems and apps,” she tells The Guardian. “What happens, for instance, when Office isn’t the best way to be productive in your work?”

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.