Apple has always been about hardware profits first, volumes second, refusing time and time again to release lower-cost iPhones tailor-made for emerging mobile markets, also keeping the price (and quality) bar of iPads and Macs constantly high.

But margins are nothing if you don’t sell enough products to actually accumulate hefty financial gains, and with the exception of the just-ended year, the Cupertino-based tech giant has managed to steadily increase its shipment numbers in addition to the bottom line.

2017 should not only mark a return of that all-winning Apple trend, according to Gartner’s latest industry projections, but “for the first time this century”, push iOS and macOS devices ahead of Microsoft’s Windows-powered products in global sales.

If these predictions are correct, Apple will rack up 268 million unit shipments this year, up from 248 in 2016, and 252 for Windows, which will apparently sink yet again, from an already modest 260 million total.

The gap between the new silver medalist and the bronze underachiever may grow to 24, then 28 million units in 2018 and 2019 respectively, as the combined iOS + macOS tally should continue to jump at a decent pace, while Microsoft is expected to stop the Windows bleeding, but settle for stagnation.

Of course, Android will comfortably remain in the lead, although its own growth has considerably slowed down of late, with no apparent hopes of a short-term acceleration.

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