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By 2017 there will almost be as many smartphones as literate adults

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When is the last time you thought about, or actually committed to, updating your family’s PC? We’re betting that it has been a while. And we’re also pretty sure that you’ve thought a lot more about updating your phone or tablet.

Well, according to a presentation by Benedict Evans, a leading mobile analyst, you’re not alone. The must-stay-at-home computer is on the decline, with more and more customers looking for something that can be used anytime, anywhere, on the go.

Last year, PC sales hit 350 million units. Sure, that may seem like a pretty decent number, but compare to mobile and tablet sales, which dominated at 1.7 billion units. It’s clear that the PC is no longer the leader of the pack. Mobile devices are also well ahead in terms of actual usage. There are 3.2 billion mobile devices currently being used, while PCs trail behind with just half the amount, at 1.6 billion. To boot, mobile electronics are replaced by users roughly every two years, while PCs stick around for anywhere from four to five years.

This is all key information for electronics manufacturers, and is already causing a shift in new products. A good portion of new PCs are now hybrid laptop/tablet amalgamations of one sort or another.

Mobile and PC sales in 2017

Looking forward to 2017, the world will be a lot more connected. As the chart above shows, the number of mobile users in the world will nearly match the number of literate adults. What does that mean? Well, nothing, really, but it would seem to imply that a saturation point is coming. Mobile phone sales can only grow as fast as the population after a while, though we’re not sure Apple and Samsung want to hear that unfortunate news.

More information on this trend will become available when Evans showcases his findings at BEA next week, which will be held in New York City.