Canalys calls it on PCs

‘Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync,’ said Chiam. ‘With screen sizes of seven inches or above, ample processing power, and a growing number of applications, pads offer a computing experience comparable to netbooks. They compete for the same customers and will happily coexist. As with smart phones, some users will require a physical keyboard, while others will do without.’

‘Each new product category typically causes a significant shift in market shares,’ said Chiam. ‘Apple is benefiting from pads, just as Acer, Samsung and Asus previously did with netbooks. The PC industry has always evolved this way, starting when Toshiba and Compaq rode high on the original notebook wave.’

via Canalys reports global PC market growth of 19% in Q4 2010 (Canalys research release: r2011012).

Five years ago, back when Gartner and IDC were confused about what a smartphone was Canalys was on top of the market and was the first to correctly describe the smartphone.

Kudos for being first again to recognize a re-defined market.

  • He has a point. But unlike netbooks the iPad is using a new way to interact with computers since the invention of the mouse. I think that makes it a more significant kind of innovation than just a smaller laptop.

    • rattyuk

      It's the elephant in the room. I bet people like Dell – now falling to 4th with this data added in – are not desperate for this data interpretation. PED had some more color:

      "Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync,' he [Chaim] added. "Apple is benefiting from pads, just as Acer, Samsung and Asus previously did with netbooks. The PC industry has always evolved this way, starting when Toshiba and Compaq rode high on the original notebook wave."

  • The CW

    it's the 240% year-over-year growth that freaks people out when you include the iPad. accurate but freakish.

  • asymco

    Here's a hint as to why Canalys is the first. IDC and Gartner still count IT departments as primary customers. Calling iPads "media tablets" provides soothing reassurance that they can ignore the category.

    • Steko

      Also if you're in the business of selling reports, you can make more by selling a PC report and a tablet report then by just selling a PC report. 3rd place Canalys is where you might expect innovation from.

    • And, this head in the sand approach from "market intelligence" firms is not helping their clients in IT, but is in fact harming them, at least the one's dumb enough to fallow this spin.

      I wonder if in fact there is the published rubbish spin reports for the media and public consumption (hoping to misdirect and deflect), and then there is the no BS call a spade a spade reports, delivered to top management at Gartner and IDC's clients.

  • Halex_Pereira

    How many goodly machines are there here! How beauteous PCs are! O brave new world! That has such gadgets in it!

  • Asking to include/not include the iPad as a 'PC' isn't the question. If Apple sold a sub $500 notebook, would it still be 3rd? Yes, because shoppers made the distinction to purchase something (anything) with Apple quality at that price point vs. dealing with a substandard notebook/netbook. In other words, no matter what system(s) Apple sold at sub $500, it still would have made the list at #3, or better.

    • famousringo

      I disagree. There would be nothing disruptive about a $500 Macbook. It would just be a cheaper, smaller Macbook that risked undermining the sales of previous low-end Macbooks. The tradeoff is simply pay less money, get less computer.

      The iPad represents a different set of values, not simply a different scale. Extreme portability and ease of use, easier to share, easier to buy software and other content, easier to configure, greater battery life. The cost is in far less computing power and connectivity and somewhat harder text input.

      The key distinction is that there's a lot more tradeoff happening between an iPad and a Macbook as opposed to a netbook and a Macbook. The tradeoff is happening between so many different values that a lot of customers find the iPad can solve problems that a netbook can't.

      • r00tabega

        The problem with differentiating/segmenting the Mac market is that the segmentation would either have to be arbitrary (e.g., Windows Starter) or have some basis in reality (i.e., only Intel C2D for Macbook 13" and smaller).

        Apple likes to have a more homogenous experience, because arbitrarily segmenting experience tends to require effort that doesn't make "good products". It also tends to lead to higher revenue and profits.

        I'm not sure how they would make a $500 Macbook that isn't gimped in some horrible way… I guess you could say that a Hackintosh netbook could suffice (ie, cheap, functional, but lacking nice experience).

      • Kizedek

        Well, you're right of course, because Apple have indeed already done their "netbook" with the true Apple experience. It's called the 11" MacBook Air.

        I think Jobs or Cook or someone said, they couldn't or wouldn't enter the sub 500-dollar market, because they couldn't do themselves justice and make the kind of product they wanted to make.

        Apparently it has been a very successful model, and has made a great contribution to the record number of Macs sold this past quarter.

  • MattF

    I wonder, though, at what point do differences in form factor, usage patterns, and business model add up to a 'difference that makes a difference'. Of course, iPads are computers– but how does lumping them with the Dell boxes that the IT department deposits on my desk once every three years help describe or explain anything?

    • Yowsers

      I think the rate of businesses of all sizes adopting the iPad for use necessitates including them in the calculations — if you want to get a sense of what the businesses are doing and where they're headed. Viewing the form factors and use-cases that an IT dept must now contend with includes tablets, laptops and boxes (are workstations a factor here?)

      Tablet usage hasn't hit critical mass yet — but will. 3-5 years? I imagine there will be more integration of tablet h/w & s/w from vendors and IT depts as they sort out which workers really don't need or ever use the full power of a desktop PC, or even a laptop, and which select few workers really do.

      Does a receptionist really need a desktop? Most have one. What % of mid-level managers in meetings all day really even need a laptop? I've seen sales & mktg depts that really only needed one or two desktop/laptop-level machines for the admins, who did the heavy computing lifting in support of the sales/mktg people (who did the heavy phone and cocktail lifting…;-) )

      I think we'll see an expansion and diversification of the tablet use-cases to such an extent that you'd want to track those numbers together now.

    • davel

      Because analysts are sheep.

      If Gartner produces a report and limits its population it makes a difference. It absolutely colors things if Apple is #3 in usa or worldwide computer manufacturers or not on the top 10 list.

      Gartner and IDC are gatekeepers. They are the experts and they are quoted all the time.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      I have watched executives sit at great big Dell workstations and run Outlook and IE for hours. If they do their mail, calendars, contacts, and Web on an iPad instead, all that has changed is the brand and the user's mobility. iPad is just a mobile PC.

      If you look at a typical business desk, there is a desktop phone and a desktop PC. A user with an iPhone and iPad has the same setup, only it is a mobile phone and mobile PC. They still put the phone to their ear while referring to a document of some kind on the PC. The only thing that has changed is the user's mobility, and the brand.

    • FalKirk

      "Of course, iPads are computers– but how does lumping them with the Dell boxes … help describe or explain anything?"

      A good question, but one you should be addressing to Gartner and IDC. They lump the cheapest netbooks together with the highest capacity desktop computing powerhouses, but then they exclude iPads from the mix. The purpose of these categorization should be to expose the truth, not obscure it.

      To me, the answer is simple. Either categorize everything – Desktop, Notebook, Netbook, Tablet, Media Tablet, Phone – and allow the end user to combine them as they will or end the un-helpful mish-mash of categories and simply lump them all together as either computers or phones.

  • kevin

    MS CEO Ballmer declared long ago that the iPad is just a PC.

    A stopped clock is right twice a day.

  • MattRichman

    A year from now Apple will be the number one PC manufacturer in the world.

  • famousringo

    If PC growth stays stagnant for the next few quarters because all the growth is being driven by "media tablets," I think we'll see all the analysts fall in line. I don't think their clients want them talking about a dead PC market all the time, do they?

  • r00tabega

    It's true that you can't backup or upgrade your iPad without a PC.
    But you can do everything else sans PC.

    In a sense, I can see why Apple does this – tethered connection to a known large local datastore like a PC is the safest and fastest way to do backups and firmware upgrades. And iTunes is a great media/device manager.

    However it would be nice to completely bypass the PC and make the device standalone in all ways.

  • chano

    Please, please, please. Let us all understand this. You sync to a main computer to 'pair' your device to a host. Your main computer is necessary not because of some failing or inadequacy in the iPad/iDevices generally. The operative word is sync. I call your main computer the host device because, ultimately, all mobile media devices need to swap content.
    We may have terabytes of content and only gigs of iPad memory. Swap the content to work your media.
    Downloaded apps straight to your iPad? Sync to back them up and to be able to load them onto up to 5 registered devices.
    Deleted content from your iPad by accident. Sync to restore.
    The iPad can function without having to connect to anything.
    The purpose of syncing is simply about content management.

    • techsanctum

      Obviously you have never opened the box on a brand new iPad before. Like I said, when you open the iPad up for the first time, it says "connect to iTunes" and does not let you do anything until it is activated. You can't even go to the home screen, which means you can't download apps, music, etc. Therefore, at least once, you need a computer. After the initial activation, it is very computer like.

      For a comparison, when I opened up my MacBook Air about a month ago, I had to walk through the installer, however, I did not have to hook it up to my iMac, like I did with my iPad. Therefore, despite being somewhat similar to the iPad, the MacBook Air is a computer (or PC) and the iPad is not. The iPad requires a computer to be activated (just like an iPod).

      • Ted_T

        What you say is technically true, but here is the reality:

        You could buy an iPad, have it activated in the Apple Store and never attach it to a computer again. You may not want to live that way, but you can.

        On the other hand when most people who buy a new Mac, the first thing they do is attach it to their old Mac and it will move over all their applications, data, user accounts, preferences — a lot like synching a new iPad/iPhone to iTunes, huh?

      • iosweekly

        Unfortunately you would be screwed if you had to set up your wifi base station at home without a computer – there are still some things the ipad cant do that a computer can.

        But there are just as many things an ipad can do that a computer cant (good luck running touch screen apps on your computer, or using a computer while standing/walking).

  • RobDK

    This is truly the ‘tipping point’ for Apple, being recognised as the big player in the IT sector that it is, with the power to steer sector development.

    It is going to be interesting to see how Apple continues this asymmetric attack on the traditional IT sector. Without a credible Windows challenger

  • RobDK

    …..(continued)…it is going to be interesting to see how the traditional OEMs are going to cope. Netbook manufakturers are already in trouble!

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      They will cope by pooping out iPad clones running Android and telling users they are the same or better than iPad, even though they lack PC class native C apps. But Apple has not left any pricing room under there for clones. It is hard to clone even just the iPad hardware for $499. Nobody has the software. Android runs baby Java applets in a nonstandard VM that is the subject of a court case. When did a PC ever have a 7-inch screen and run Java apps? The modern Apple is not making the mistakes that the non-Jobs Apple of 1986-1996 made by overpricing and under-developing the Mac. Motorola is unprofitable and may not last another year, and they want $70 more for their tablet than an iPad!

      Me, I think it is iPods all over again for both the phone and PC markets: design, software, ecosystem, iteration, aggressively lowering prices. What Apple did in phones in the past 4 years was just run the iPod playbook, and they already take more than half of all handset profits. Where is iPad in 3 years? Nobody else even has a desktop class OS or desktop class native C apps on ARM yet. Microsoft says at least 2 years to get NT on ARM, that means 3-5 real years. The non-Apple PC industry has ignored software for decades. They put all their eggs in the Wintel basket. A tablet is 99% software, and all on ARM. Everyone other than Apple is now in a shrinking market. Look back at the last 5 years and imagine if Windows couldn't run on notebook PC's. That is the next 5 years as Windows doesn't run on mobile PC's. Armageddon for the generic makers. Windows is Walkman.

  • Hamranhansenhansen

    Irrelevant. You also have to sync a Windows PC with Microsoft's activation servers before you use it.

    If you don't have a Mac or PC, you can ask Apple Store staff to activate your iPad before you leave the store and they will do that. Although that makes it harder to do backups and system updates, many Windows PC users don't do those either. Plugging into iTunes on Mac or PC is optional, it just backs you up and syncs photos and so on for extra convenience.

    As for iPad being an iPod, it's an iPod PC, duh! That's the whole point. It's a feature! For years people said why isn't there a PC that is as easy and fun to use as an iPod? Answer: iPad.

  • MattRichman


    They won't be able to. I'm not even convinced they know what they're up against.

    I would argue the iPad is actually the culmination of 9 years of work. They started in 2001, with the iPod. Every year since, they've updated it, and released a new version of iTunes to go along with it. In 2007 they released the iPhone, which built upon the iTunes foundation. The App Store in 2008 made it rock solid. And then, just last year, they released the iPad, the end-product of 9 years of learning.

    Perhaps Apple built up the iTunes empire with the iPad in mind all along, but I doubt it. (See Jobs's digital hub keynote in 2000)

    The success of the iPad is directly related to the iTunes ecosystem. That is nothing an OEM – or any other company, for that matter – can build in a couple of years, assuming they even know how to. It'll take at least 5 or 6 if they follow Apple's lead. But by then, Apple will have conquered another territory. Maybe, like you said, Rob, it'll be the enterprise. Maybe it'll be the living room, with the AppleTV and its eventual App Store.

    These companies seriously have no idea what they're up against.

  • Balmer was crucified for calling an iPad a PC. Now we learn he was right all along?

    • FalKirk

      Ballmer wasn't crucified for calling an iPad a PC. He was crucified, and rightfully so, for not understanding that a tablet required an entirely different operating system and user interface than a PC.

    • famousringo

      If watching politics has taught me anything, it's that no matter what position you take, 30% of the population will crucify you for it.

      I actually agreed with Ballmer. I also understand what Zuckerburg meant when he was laughed at for saying the iPad wasn't mobile.

  • FalKirk

    "…I do not consider an iPad a PC for one very solid reason. You still need to set it up on a PC!"

    A distinction without a difference. A cruise liner needs to be towed in to and out of the harbor each and every time it arrives or departs, but it still remains a ship.

  • capablanca

    Canalys is light years ahead of Gartner and IDC, but they still only get half credit in my book.

    They are still counting and ranking units shipped. Far superior yardsticks are available: Revenue and Gross Profit to name a couple.


    • famousringo

      That depends on why you're measuring the market. Investors want to know things like revenue and profit. IT departments and software developers want to know how widespread platform adoption is.

      Infoporn addicts like me just want to know everything. 😉

  • Charel

    What if Apple moves your iTunes to its new server park? What if soon one can sync the iPad to it without ever needing a PC?
    With an ever more powerful processor and increasing memory due to Moore’s law the difference will no longer be with a net book, but with a fully specced MacBook.
    Whatever the analysts say, the iPad is a PC and they better get used to it.

  • mashlite

    I dont iPads are PCs at all. First off, they are closed devices where as a PC is freely programmable, you can open the back and add hardware. THese are tethered devices and use a different microprocessor – ie a RISC. A PC is a generic device – rather as a swiss army knife is. Second, they most certainly do not compete for the same market. Dont be surprised if tablets – once LTE is in place- sell somewhere north of 500m units. These devices are close to what a terrific book published in the 1990s described as the Invisible Computer. THat book was written by an old Apple guy, order it on Amazon, it will tell you more about the world than any report from a market research firm

    • Would not your definition of a PC eliminate MacBook Airs and arguably even some earlier versions of MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis? And we do not yet know if there are hackers who could open an iPad and add memory or change the hardware. But that isn't really the point. Defining PCs based on accessibility or specific hardware that can be changed or adapted by the user is unreasonably limiting. The same goes for defining it based on a certain type of processor. You can't limit a PC to specific hardware specifications. Technology advances too fast for that kind of thinking.

  • Kristian

    Yes it is.

  • Kizedek

    Looking at comments by Windows or Android fans on other sites dealing with this question, it looks like many people agree with you. Qu'elle horreur! What an egregious mistake Apple has made. This just goes to "prove" the iPad is NOT a computer.

    Again, this is an arbitrary, technical distinction, that is not reflected in real-world use, because… The same protesters will readily admit you can do a bunch of personal computing on the iPad, much more than mere media consumption, in fact. They will readily admit it is much more functional and useful than most net books.

    But, hey, no way is it a computer!

    I guess they make this such a sticking point because they are happy to have something, anything, negative to say about the iPad in order to avoid admitting that Apple has done it again and made a hit at the expense of other manufacturers, and PC manufacturers in this case. This seems to be absolutely the ONLY excuse people can make for not including it in a computer category, so people are hanging on to it desperately.

  • Nalini Kumar Muppala

    Back to basics: A computing device takes user input in some form and produces output in a different form. Various form factors of computers serve different needs. A desktop PC is still the best device for intensive creation. A tablet on the other end is the best device for a presentation/slide-show. The suitability of a particular form factor depends a lot on the kind of input vs kind of output.

    IT departments will see tablet share increase in their device mix as mobile professionals perceive the elegance and increased mobility of a tablet device.

    consider the use case of sales/marketing PC. A person creating or updating a sales database or marketing material will be putting a lot of information in, and hence would much rather do it on a PC with a full size physical keyboard and a big screen — a desktop. On the other hand, a person making minor editing to a marketing presentation or committing a small update to a sales database could avail the increased mobility and ease of a tablet device. A tablet adds more value for a person who is extracting more (presentation, reading, media consumption, etc) than input-ing

    A while ago, I wrote

    "What the iPad does best is to serve consumers’ needs for consumption (media), communication (VoIP, social media), and entertainment (games, media)."

    more at

    I have since changed my mind.

  • Iphoned

    Is iPhone also a PC then?

  • Iphoned

    How about an iPod touch? A super portable PC? Afer all, physically, an iPod touch is just a smaller iPad no?

    • asymco

      It's a question of what jobs the products are hired to do. If you categorize by jobs then you can uncover opportunities and threats.

  • mashlite

    Actually, the processor is important. An ARM is a RISC – reduced instruction set – the Intel is Complex Instruction Set. From those differences we get profoundly different end results. In the main – we are talking about an embedded device that has not been designed to be programmed by the user. The PC is a generative device that is open and can be programmed.

    From these differences we are getting a profoundly different internet experience. One way that we can describe this difference is to see that the internet is becoming more like a cable tv network – ie devices are more like set top boxes that are still tethered to the producer of the device, or the network. The freewheeling days of the internet are probably coming to an end. We are emerging from our Wild West phase into something more ordered. Wikileaks is important because it is an expression of that freer and delightfully anarchic phase. The suits are taking over. I am writing this post from Singapore – horrible place, which unfortunately probably gives us a glimpse of the internet's future. No life, no soul but lots of money being made.
    This is a massive subject and touches on all sorts of things.

    Perhaps the more substantive question might be to ask – what information, what insight, do we get from calling an iPad, a smartphone, an iPod etc, a PC. I dont think there is any value or insight in that. If all I know about a life form is that it is a eukaryotic cell, that tells me it has a nucleus and complex cell membranes containing other structures. There is a lot of information in that but not if I want to know whether the life form is warm blooded, cold blooded, does if fly, float (ill leave the rest to your imagination). etc etc.

    Maybe, the proof will be in who wins this battle. For instance, will smartphone makers like HTC and Samsung, together with Apple, dominate the tablet computer market or will the conventional PC industry? The mainframe and mini were computers and so, to the best of my knowledge is a PC. So, who now remembers DEC, Sperry, NCR, Control Data, Perkin Elmer, Wang, ICL, Amdahl, Data General, RCA, Olivetti, Nixdorf,Norsk Data etc, etc etc. Ou sont les neiges d'antan?

    • jecrawford

      Me! I worked for Amdahl.