PC market data is meaningless without mobile

It’s time the big analysts accepted mobile devices as part of the PC market

IDC and Gartner have published their latest PC market figures, but these don’t reflect the true state of the technology industry because they fail to include smartphone and tablet sales **. This lack means the figures are little more than anachronistic reminders that provide only small insight into the future of history – they aren’t the big picture.

Big change

The big picture is the rapid transformation of the computer world by the increasing use, power and versatility of mobile devices.

Think about how you use a computer today:



social networks




data access


Many tasks that once demanded you use a PC (or, better, a Mac) are now supported by mobile devices, and as these devices become increasingly powerful, the things we can do with them will continue to grow.

None of this is rocket science. We’ve known change like this was coming since Steve Jobs told us PCs would become “trucks." Those of us who dwell outside the islands of anxious denial and traumatized loyalty recognize the truth in this today.


So why don’t Gartner and IDC account for this reality within their PC industry figures? How can they lay any claim to legitimacy for their data if they don’t include mobile devices in their numbers?

This is why I think you should take the PC industry figures with a grain of salt. All they illustrate is the ascendancy of mobile devices, because the only PC vendor that really looks good is Apple, and interest in its products is surely buoyed by the leadership position of its mobile devices. The PC industry is about mobile and wearable devices, not just PCs, because it’s about task transaction, not form factor.

This tapestry of technology is what defines today’s computing landscape.

Perhaps the only analysts brave enough to embrace this reality are those at Canalys, who have included tablet figures within PC market numbers for some time. The analysts haven’t yet published their latest data, but their most recent report in May placed Apple as the No. 1 PC manufacturer.

The new Microsoft

The tragedy here is the steady and inexorable decline of Microsoft. The company has little footprint in mobile and the costly Nokia takeover was clearly a mistake. Microsoft’s strategy to open up to a new reality in which it becomes a cross-platform solutions provider is the best move it can make to resolve its current crisis. As the creditors dealing with Greece fail to understand, you need to speculate to accumulate in order to create any hope of a wealthier future -- and that’s precisely what the company is trying to do.

Where we are right now is that in any situation in which computer purchasers have a choice you’ll often see them adopting Macs. They may not always get them from IT support, but “Want a PC? Get a Mac” is the new PC purchasing refrain. Apple is the PC market leader by a country mile and is already laying the seeds for the next sea change.

Perhaps that is what the analysts at Gartner and IDC find hard to accept? If so then perhaps it’s time they looked into themselves for an explanation of the term, “reality denial," because the times they aren’t just changing….

They’ve changed.

**with the weird exception that Gartner does include some Windows tablets, but not iPads in some convoluted twist of logic that doesn’t actually add any useful insight for anyone.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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