Gartner: as a Media Tablet, iPad deserves to be ignored in PC rankings

“Media tablet hype around devices such as the iPad has also affected consumer notebook growth by delaying some PC purchases, especially in the U.S. consumer market. Media tablets don’t replace primary PCs, but they affect PC purchases in many ways,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “At this stage, hype around media tablets has led consumers and the channels to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to buying a new device.”

Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments Grew 7.6 Percent in Third Quarter of 2010.

Fascinating. I’d love to hear more about the non-iPad “media tablets” that delayed PC purchases last quarter. Maybe I don’t get out enough.

But more to the point, let’s combine the data from Gartner and the forecast for iPad.

I show below the impact of the iPad on PC vendor sales. I’m using my own estimates of world-wide PC sales (you can see other estimates here (Apple 2.0))

The world-wide PC units shipped without and with iPad:

When including the iPad Apple goes from 7th to 5th ranked, and with 50% growth clearly within shot of top rank next year.

Now I look at PC unit shares:

With the iPad Apple goes from 4% share to 10% share. Again, within striking distance of number one or two in a year.

Finally, growth rates:

Apple’s share growth goes from second to first but also several times higher than any of the others.

When Gartner spins the iPad as a “Media Tablet” it’s clear that the device is disruptive. Reminds me of what Gartner thought about Smartphones four years ago.

I cannot think of a better endorsement for an investment than a snub from Gartner.

  • J Ives

    It would be nice if Gartner provided examples of other media devices "such as the iPad', but we all know they don't exist. Writing in plurality about a category that consists of a single device exemplifies the denial and bias – and quite frankly insults the intelligence of any reader of thier "analysis". Even a child would know better.

    • asymco

      Especially when they are referring to influence of said "tablets" during Q3 ended September. Very snide remarks suggest defensiveness.

      • CndnRschr

        Perhaps they are including the prepayments people made for the JooJoo – all 64 of them.

  • FalKirk

    Not that I disagree with anything you said, but when I read the quoted text, I had a slightly different takeaway:

    “At this stage, hype around media tablets has led consumers and the channels to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to buying a new device.”

    When I read this I thought: Huh? Hype around media tablets hasn't led consumers to take a 'wait and see' approach with Macs, only with PCs. Weird. Now why do you suppose that is? Could it be that consumers aren't taking a wait and see approach at all but are instead buying iPads and Macs instead of PC's?

    Naaaaaaaaaah. That couldn't be it.

  • Grant

    If Steve Ballmer says the iPad is a PC ( then who is Gartner to discount it?

    • I dunno, it's never too soon to start ignoring what Ballmer says.

  • Alexkhan2000

    It seems the entire PC industry just does not know what to make of the iPad. It has indeed proved to be an extremely disruptive device. Both Gartner and IDC aren't lumping it in as PC unit sales but I don't think there is any doubt that the iPad had a cannibalizing effect on the PC market. We'd need a breakdown of the units sold to get a clearer picture. Will Gartner and IDC create a new "tablet" category next quarter or next year? Or will they decide to lump it in with the PC's? It doesn't seem Apple really cares. They're just too busy selling 'em and creating new models.

    It would be very interesting to see what the revenue and profit share is like instead of units – both including and excluding the iPad. I think it was the Deutsche Bank that estimated that although Apple has just 4% of the global market share in PC unit shipments but around 35% of the profit share, which is quite in line with what the iPhone is doing in the handset industry. Since the Mac unit share is now over 10% in the US, that would indicate that Apple is raking in well over 50% of the profit share in the US market.

    We'll see some hard numbers on Monday, but none of these figures are surprising based on what we are observing out there. Apple is gaining serious market share across the board – especially in profit share. Apple's consistently spectacular performance has now numbed us to expect the amazing numbers quarter after quarter. What's doubly amazing is that Apple still has so much room for growth. Yet the competition seems frozen and unable to respond in any effective manner. They've been blindsided and are in a daze as Apple continues to bite big chunks out of them. Fascinating…

    • It *is* fascinating but you have to remember how long Apple has been setting up it's chess pieces. I was looking into this at this nearly two years ago (when we were deciding to start making Apps) and there were a number of things that I was thinking would take the competition years to catchup.

      Here's a few that don't get mentioned much:

      1. Mac OS X is not dependant on chip architecture. That allowed them to build iOS (based on Mac OSX) to run on ARM.
      2. iTunes. Many, many people use it, and it's crucial for syncing large media files. That's why Palm tried to fake a connection with it, and why Microsoft are building the Zune software for MAcs now.
      3. Grand Central Dispatch – ArsTechnica have written extensively about this ( but you can think of it as a really easy way to use multiple chip cores. It's genius. This will give them long term advantages when the move to multicore happens, that others e.g. Blackberry Playbook with 2 cores) cant emulate because developers won't be able to write code that takes advantage of it easily.
      4. PA Semi – Custom silicon coded specifically for their needs. Standard ARM chips come with a whole bunch of 'base covering' features many of which aren't useful to a mobile developer. The A4 chip hacks this stuff out.
      5. iOS User Interface consistency – really crucial when trying to make a simple usable experience. Android has so far to go here, though 3.0 (Gingerbread may fix this next year)

      • poru

        excellent points, esp. the iTunes ecosystem.

        Won't the vast majority of people with existing iPods (the non-Touch) version with all their iTunes media content just stick with Apple for tablets and phones and future PCs/laptops?

        Why on earth would I consider adding a separate media system (Zunes?) to my personal ecosystem?

        If all those people with iPod MP3 players were desperately unhappy with the hardware or the software I could see them switching, but in fact all the evidence is to the contrary.

        And it astounds me how other companies (Sony–I'm looking at you) don't understand that consumers want and need simple interfaces. That Sony remote for the Google TV was incredibly bad design.

      • Stu

        And Apple isn't even using iTunes as a real selling point yet.

        Imagine the ad – install software, import music, videos, apps, etc or just use what you already have. Magical.

      • CndnRschr

        Microsoft has belatedly realised the ecosystem lock-in problem which is why WP7 has Xbox integration as well as Zune. They are hoping the Xbox owners will drive sales to challenge the iPod/iPhone/iPad ecosystem. This is also a major hole for Android (which is looking more and more like a stop-gap OS) and Sybian.

  • DJ King

    Truth be told, we'll find out Monday evening. Regardless of how Intel and Acer's ceo's want to spin it, make no mistake, the ipad has impacted pc sales, intel chips sales, and windows sales. Look at ARMH stock price in 2010. It's in multiple Apple products including the new Apple TV.

  • yet another steve

    I was hoping you'd calculate the US only share, just for fun, since Apple's US share is higher than its WW share.

    • asymco

      US share would be much higher but I don't forecast Mac and iPad by region. Apple will provide the data for the Mac by region but not the iPad. Global numbers are easier to defend.

  • Steven Noyes

    There is an interesting dichotomy between this report and a report Gartner release on the 4th or 5th of this month. The earlier report looked specifically at Tablet PCs and it is the name of the device that is interesting. Not only did they predict a number that will be WAY low for 2010, but they were not "Media Tablets" but "Tablet PCs" including the classical Windows Tablet PC as well as the iPad. I wonder if there are strong disagreements within Gartner on just what the iPad really is.

    There are obviously groups that see the iPad as a PC as it replaced the primary usage of PCs and others that see the iPad as an over-hyped (Apple does not buy their services so they want to discount them as much as possible allowing their customers to here what they want to here???) media tablet not worthy to be considered. So while a 700+ USD tablet is not counted as a "PC" for this report, a $300 Netbook is when both are being purchased for much of the same tasks.

    Horace, in your experience, what is it like inside the analysts world when disruptive technologies are coming? Do factions within the group take up sides as to what is truly disruptive and what is simply a passing fad?

    • asymco

      Factional debate is common but it depends on the culture of the organization, or, more precisely, on the leadership. By its nature, disruptive stuff is easily dismissed. It takes courage, and a thick skin to support it. I wrote about the challenge of categorization here:

  • Agreed: "I cannot think of a better endorsement for an investment than a snub from Gartner."

  • ChanpagneBob

    Just a further erosion of the Gartner ethos…. they lost their creditability long ago on most every front. I'm not sure who believes their numbers anymore…..

    • Marcos El Malo

      Lazy tech journalists?

  • KRIS

    How about that AAPL $1000, Horace? 😉

    • asymco

      I'm starting to come around…

    • Marcos El Malo

      You're getting into Berkshire Hathaway territory! (Not that the stocks are really comparable. BH is incredibly diversified, for one thing.) But one thing that seems a little bit similar: As Apple's price per share climbs, it becomes harder and more risky for certain players to manipulate the price. At one point I was really hoping Apple would do a split, now I'm coming around to the wisdom of not doing a split.

  • Sandeep

    Horace, taking potshots at Gartner is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Seriously, Gartner's business reports are targeted at their main clients (OEMs) and are designed to make them 'feel good'. As long as status quo is preserved the better.


    • Alfredo

      Spot on. The analyst firms are CYA (cover your ass) services for corporate execs, who need a crutch or footnote note citation for their PowerPoints when pitching their stuff to higher ups or the board.

      Innovation and the advanced knowledge about it takes place in the R&D labs and test markets, not in the analyst cubicles.

  • One really interesting this I find when looking at the newly published US marketshare, I see that the iPad has greatly affected the numbers despite being counted. For example, Acer's marketshare dropped from 13.6% to 10.5%, a drop of -21%.

    This is without a doubt because of the iPad killing off the netbook. Acer only rose so high because they were the first company to really capitalize on the netbook. Now that the netbook is being phased out by tablets (iPad, Android, SLATE??????) I can see the companies who achieved so much marketshare from the netbook have continued decrease of marketshare.

    • r00fus

      Not a nitpick, but Netbooks were disruptive in their own right, and both Intel and Microsoft wanted to (and proceeded to) kill them off (Microsoft forced "W7 Starter" on OEMs to kill Linux and Intel released a cheap Atom to avoid ARM netbooks)… most original netbooks were Lin/ARM devices that did iPad like usage quite well.

      The iPad has only made things worse for Acer, but it seems to have taken the netbook original usage over (ie, browsing/light usage, highly portable).

      Apple sure deserves to have the iPad counted, they took the mantle of the original non-bloated netbooks and provided what consumers wanted, while MS/Intel screwed over the OEMs so they could protect their precious PC market.

      All of this thanks to Negroponte's OLPC which spawned the whole netbook revolution.

      • asymco

        The netbook was a giant leap downmarket. That had potential to disrupt and Acer rode the wave. But the missing piece to complete the disruption was the asymmetry from incumbents. All vendors were able to copy the form factor and Microsoft was able to maintain presence through a drop in pricing (and a drop in margins). What iPad launched was so different a paradigm that it's going to take years for a truly competitive response.

  • kevin

    Horace, there might be an error in your pie charts. The one without iPads adds up to 98% total. The one with iPads adds up to 101% total. When you added iPad into the data, Apple increased 6%, but only Acer (-1%) and Others (-2%) showed lower market share. Rounding could be part of the culprit, but shouldn't HP (and possibly Dell) also have resulted in a lower market share?

    • asymco

      The shares in the pie charts are rounded to nearest integer and may not add up to 100%.

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  • RobDK

    I wonder how Gartner classifies Windows Tablets?! We know they are sold, albiet very few.

    Does Gartner count them as Window pc’s? If so, then they should also count iPads!

  • swift2

    The iPad isn't "cannibalizing" PC sales. "Cannibalizing" means "eating your own." If the iPad was lowering the sales of Macs, then that's cannibalization. It's cutting into the sales of netbooks, which is not cannibalizing anything that Apple makes.

    • Gopi

      Cannibalzing is an interesting term.

      Any time people spend money, there's a good chance that they aren't spending it elsewhere.

      I see the iPad having a few effects:
      Some people will buy one instead of a netbook. The MacBook Air is impressive but IMHO very different from a netbook, and not a volume seller anyway. So only PC netbooks are cannibalized this way.
      What about proper laptops?

      I have no research to back this up, but I can't imagine that many people are, right now, using an iPad to the total exclusion of a laptop. ie: the numbers of people who were laptop users and who said "sell the laptop, iPad only" is likely very small.

      However, far more likely is putting off laptop upgrades. Instead of buying a new laptop, buy an iPad. Browser on the iPad is fast. I can see people switching to less frequent laptop upgrades.

      Finally, increased sales of MacBooks doesn't mean that some iPad buyers haven't avoided MacBook purchases. There are presumably many MacBook purchasers without iPads. There may also be Windows users who buy iPads and then buy MacBooks.

      In other words, if a percentage of iPad buyers not buying laptops and a percentage buy a MacBook *because* of the iPad, you have some competing forces. Cannibalization and the halo effect both likely exist. Which one is greater in percentage is what matters.

  • Dan0

    The "computer" I use for 90% of the work that I do is an Apple iPad. Most days I never touch the "computer" and I used to use it all day long. Maybe it'd be a good idea to ignore netbooks as well.

  • Steko

    Gartner sells information and segregating the iPad into a new category gives them another product to sell. Same reason they split up pdas and smartphones in 2005.

  • To paraphrase Steve Jobs, if you are counting truck manufacturers market share you don't include cars.

  • moeskido

    Nielsen does similar things as Gartner when it downplays the effect of the Internet upon tv ad sales to its traditional tv-network clients.

    • asymco


  • Jake

    iPad is a Media Tablet? Hilarious!

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