Wake up to an Apple planet, PC world

Driven by the iPad and iPhone, Apple is the world's leading personal computer maker -- but this isn't reflected in so-called market share studies from the likes of Gartner or IDC.

An outrageous claim? It isn't. It is a statement of fact.

This is because at present neither Gartner nor IDC include iPad sales within their PC data calculations -- even though they will include figures detailing netbook sales.

They've decided -- at least for the time being -- that Apple's tablet doesn't qualify as a netbook, even though many of us acquiring an iPad are doing so in order to use it as a netbook.

Indeed, that's precisely why some corporate and business users are opting for iPad.

[This story is from the new Apple Holic blog at Computerworld. Subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

Canalysys does include iPad sales within its calculations, and when it does it finds that the three million plus tablets Apple shifted in the second quarter actually equates to six percent of the portable computer market.

Apple's own figures reveal the company sold 3.47 million Macs in Q2, add the 3.2 million iPad sales and you get 6.7 percent. That's enough to put Apple ahead of Toshiba in the global PC sales rankings, notes El Reg's Tony Smith.

Indeed, add the two together and Apple sits in fifth place with an interesting 8 percent of the world's PC market.

And those figures include data for a product that wasn't even available worldwide in the quarter. Any fool can see the only way is up for Apple and its PC share -- if that share is accurately represented.

Look, there's no good reason IDC and Gartner don't include Apple's iPad within PC market stats. We know full well that the iPad is being used to replace or in preference to netbooks.

Netbooks are dead

We know netbook sales have stalled while iPad sales are exploding, and we can surmise that competitors hoping to take Apple on in this frame are foundering through lack of components, including flash memory and displays.

("Mini-notebook shipment growth slowed significantly in Q2 2010," said Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.)

Perhaps Gartner is slightly anti-iPad?

Probably not, but they don't seem happy with iPad's effect on parts of the business.

"Surging popularity of Apple's iPad temporarily cannibalised mini-notebooks, as well as consumer notebook sales to some degree," she said, but cautiously questioned whether this will continue given how much more expensive such media-centric tablets are in comparison to netbooks," Kitagawa said (The Register).

6.7 million devices is enough to propel Apple into fifth place on a global basis, but I don't think we're going far enough.

I can see no good reason netbooks are included within Gartner/IDC figures while tablets are not. This isn't just nitpicking. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, netbooks account for around 20 percent of mobile computing sales.

If Apple's iPad is eating into that market then the device should be recorded as a player within that market.

This would transform Apple's status. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say this would correctly reflect Apple's status as the most important innovator in the PC market.

One step beyond

I think iPhone sales should also be included. And, by inference, so too should sales of other highly-powered and extensible (via apps) devices, including Android-powered devices.

The iPhone isn't just the world's leading smartphone fighting off all-comers in a battle for supremacy; the iPhone is also the world's leading hand-held computer.

It may not do everything a computer can do, and may not be able to handle page layout or web design tasks you can do on a PC or Mac, but for email, surfing and all those applications, it does offer you plenty.

Not just that, but the iPhone has more features inside than most computers -- GPS, anyone? And all with more processing power than a bondi blue iMac.

Give it a Bluetooth keyboard and a pico projector, make it voice and gesture activated, and I can't really see it as anything else.

Where's the joy?

After all, didn't some US corporate leader once note the passing of the PC age, that it is changing and transforming, saying something like, "The times they are a changin', and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is."

His healthy recognition of this is streets ahead of some competitors. Take Microsoft, for example. Sure, Microsoft remains hugely profitable, but it has become a Blue Chip firm. Like a utility. Where's the joy?

Microsoft still just about beats Apple in revenue ($16.04 billion vs. $15.7 billion) and profit ($4.52 billion vs. $3.25 billion). One company is on fire. The other plainly isn't.

Recognition that the iPhone -- indeed the whole mobile computing segment -- are peer players to PCs is simply to reflect the movement of the industry.

If you add Apple's 8.4 million iPhone sales to Mac and iPad sales, you get a figure of 15.1 million. Percentage-wise, that is up there with number one PC maker, HP.

In fact, HP, Acer and Dell (the top three makers) don't -- yet -- have products to match Apple's reach in the mobile space.

Apple planet

That Apple is on trajectory for a transformation of the industry it helped invent is well understood by all three.

This is why HP beat deals from Apple to purchase Palm. HP wants its own mobile-focused OS in order to play in the future PC ecosystem.

That purchase enough should at least justify inclusion of iPad sales within Gartner and IDC's PC market figures. Non-inclusion of those sales leads to flawed stats which do not represent the truth of the market.

That truth is that Apple leads the PC industry, delivering quarter after quarter of Mac marketshare growth for the last 13 straight quarters. iPhone has set the standard for what a smartphone should be, and iPad has eaten the netbook market.

With cloud computing -- the real thing -- just around the corner, then devices such as an iPhone are peers to any desktop,when apps and files are held in the cloud.

This is the new PC world. And it is an Apple planet.

Get used to it.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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