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Is the iPad a PC?

Gartner published its estimates for “PC” shipments during the fourth quarter. As I’ve done in the past, I combined their estimates with known shipments from Apple and separated Apple’s performance from the Windows-based market.

I also take into consideration the iPad as a potential competitor for computing purchases. Apple will report fourth quarter results including Mac and iPad shipments in less than two weeks but I am using my own estimates until then.

Here is how the platforms grew over the last few quarters (all figures are global):

The Gartner data implies a 3% decline in the size of the Windows PC market during the last quarter. This is the fourth quarter of disappointing Windows performance. If you observe the pattern for the Mac vis-a-vis  Windows there is a similarity in the overall cycle but a divergence in terms of growth. The “spread” between Windows and Mac OS X is increasing and has reached an all-time high of 28 points.

But the more interesting story is that the decline in Windows seems to be coincident with the growth in the iPad. The green (Mac + iPad) shows the effect of the new category while the red line (iPad only) shows that growth in isolation (year-on-year).

Coincidence?

Ever since the iPad launched the hypothesis that it has an impact on PC has been hanging in the air. Most analysts (including Gartner) argued that there was no effect from iPad and that the problems with Windows were all due to one-time circumstances. We hear the same about the last quarter with floods in Thailand being blamed.

However, in the latest quarter Gartner began suggesting that “consumers’ attention was diverted toward other product categories, especially smartphones and media tablets.”

One wonders if these “media tablets” are not PCs and yet they negatively affect the purchase of PCs whether they are indeed competing with PCs.

  • http://twitter.com/kawika Kawika Holbrook

    Think Windows 8 might help Gartner, et. al., finally decide whether tablets are PCs?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      But then the question will be: do they include the Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=524209399 Jon Sweet

        Exactly my question as soon as I started thinking, “OK, I’m Gartner and I can no longer claim with a straight face that tablets shouldn’t be included in my ‘PC’ reports; but I can’t make it look like Apple is just cleaning their clocks single-handedly.  I know!  I’ll include a ton of this other garbage that can barely run it apps so my big customers the PC vendors don’t feel bad about themselves and stop buying my reports.”

      • Moctavio

        Horace can you sometime give us your thoughts on the Kindle Fire and the Nook as “regional” (US-centric) products and what that does to strategy, economies of scale and their long terms prospects?

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu
      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu
      • Moctavio

        Horace can you sometime give us your thoughts on the Kindle Fire and the Nook as “regional” (US-centric) products and what that does to strategy, economies of scale and their long terms prospects?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

        Yes!

        Just like the PC/jr was offered as a legitimate PC — though a limited and not very successful one!

        I suspect that the KF2, Nook2, PlayBook2 will all have increased “app” capability — and, no doubt will satisfy some class of personal computing needs.  

        It will be interesting to see what type of personal computer that $299 will buy — by the end of this year.

      • http://openid.aol.com/makesmelaughhard AppleKilledMobileFlash

        Wow!  Was the PCjr really a PC?  Pretty much so but the hardware was hobbled.  Like comparing a notebook to a netbook.  I barely remember there was such a thing as a PCjr or “Peanut” because that’s how insignificant it was.  It was panned heavily as a slowed-down PC for consumers.  You guys are really going down memory lane.

    • Anonymous

      One would hope. Or will a netbook running Win 8 be a “PC” while a slate running Win 8 be a “media tablet”? Or will they argue that the defining characteristic of a PC is the OS, lumping all Win 8 devices as PCs while the iPad gets to rule over Android in the “media tablet” ghetto?

      I guess whichever method casts Gartner’s clients in the best light is the one which will be adopted.

      • Tatil

        Give Gartner a break. Their clients are probably not app developers. For hardware suppliers, tablets and PCs are quite different ecosystems: interfaces,  presence or absence of embedded processors, firmwares etc. 

      • Kizedek

        What does that have to do with anything? Hardware suppliers/makers are usually involved in the whole gamut of hardware anyway: “PC”s, printers, monitors, mp3 players, mobile devices, etc.

        What the blinkered analysis is saying is:
        “well, boys, PC sales weren’t so hot lately, better luck next quarter. Apple just happened to pip you in sales for once because they lucked out with this new ultrabook category and suckered lots of Mac fanatics with great marketing as usual; we think you guys have that in hand and will do fine next quarter since Intel is giving you a leg up. Too bad about netbook sales which we thought was the only category of PC with real promise of growth; don’t know what happened there, maybe everyone’s waiting on Win8 and better Atom processors.”

        What the data really shows is that the low end has tanked and that something else may actually be having a material effect, but it is discounted out of hand, because it is of course obviously outside the categories — how could something outside the categories be affecting sales within the categories? Inconceivable.

      • Tatil

        If you’ve never worked at a hardware supplier, feel free to dismiss my comment. Snarky mumbling about Gartner is more fun anyways. Companies do not have infinite resources and they need to plan ahead. How many field application engineers do I need who can support one set of interface issues versus another? Which project do we finish first? A lumped total of this many tablets and PCs do not help me narrow much down. 

        > Hardware suppliers/makers are usually involved in the 
        > whole gamut of hardware anyway: “PC”s, printers, 
        > monitors, mp3 players, mobile devices, etc.
        Then, maybe Garnet should add all of them up together and give one market share data. Pfft!… 

      • Kizedek

        Again, you are missing the implication of Horace’s article. The “job to be done” has nothing to do with how the manufacturer thinks of the device and how it chooses to divide its design, purchasing, workflow or assembly up between embedded or traditional desktop components. Pfffft.

        The consumer determines the job it is hired for. Obviously, consumers are not purchasing printers to replace jobs done by their PCs. For you to get that out of my comment is quite obtuse and snarky.

        Companies certainly don’t have infinite resources, so they need to know what is happening, whether or not it fits their notions of traditional categories.

      • Tatil

        The “job to be done” for Gartner’s report is helping its customers plan their resources better. If it is more helpful for the customers to distinguish between x86 and ARM based computers (and I believe for hardware suppliers that it is), that is how it should be done. The lumped model helps some people who only want to cheer during a horse race, but those are not the ones paying for these. The report is not prepared for consumers to see who has the biggest sales momentum. 

        Besides, Apple also categorizes iPads and Mac (along with iPhone and iPods) sales separately in the short quarterly reports available from its website. 

      • Anonymous

        Apple breaks out its desktops from its portables, so breaking out its iPads makes total sense. But even you wouldn’t argue that a portable Mac isn’t a PC – or would you?

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        I don’t know what the job to be done of a Gartner report is. It’s cited widely and used in many ways. However, the commentary that accompanies the report would suggest that the writer is using the report to indicate the causes for how the market is trending. I choose to do the same with the data.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        I don’t know what the job to be done of a Gartner report is. It’s cited widely and used in many ways. However, the commentary that accompanies the report would suggest that the writer is using the report to indicate the causes for how the market is trending. I choose to do the same with the data.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        I don’t know what the job to be done of a Gartner report is. It’s cited widely and used in many ways. However, the commentary that accompanies the report would suggest that the writer is using the report to indicate the causes for how the market is trending. I choose to do the same with the data.

    • http://wmilliken.livejournal.com/ Walter Milliken

      I’m guessing that Win 8/Intel tablets will be classified as PCs, based on the notion that they’re the “complete Windows experience”; for Win 8/Metro-only ARM tablets, I’m not sure which way Gartner/IDC will jump, but I suspect a bias to calling them PCs, since that will bolster Microsoft’s Win 8 sales numbers and keep away from embarrassing comparisons to iPad sales. (Which presumes that they *will* be embarrassing, but that’s the way I’d bet.)

      I am guessing that Gartner/IDC will keep the “limited” iOS/Android tablets in the separate “media tablet” category, and probably include the high-function e-readers (Kindle Fire, B&N Nook Color).

      Frankly, the Windows 8 ARM tablets look to me like they belong with iOS/Android, since they won’t run normal PC applications, and actually should be counted as a separate OS version (much like WinCE isn’t counted as regular Windows). While the ARM Win 8 may be a subset of the standard Win 8 OS and libraries, the same is true of iOS/Mac OS X (and Android/Linux, for that matter). But Microsoft marketing keeps saying these are all the same Windows… riiight. And I doubt Gartner/IDC will buck Microsoft’s spin on things.

      From Horace’s “what is the device hired to do?” standpoint, the PC/tablet division is much murkier. But I don’t expect the paid market analysts to view things that way.

      It appears to me that we’re beginning to see a continuum of capabilities across the portable device category that makes distinct lines difficult to draw. Borrowing Steve Job’s comment on PCs being trucks and tablets being cars, I think we’re beginning to see the cars split into several segments: sub-compacts (Fire and Color Nook), intermediates (many of the Android tablets), and luxury/performance (iPad and high-end Android). However, the price differentiation between the intermediate/luxury segments isn’t yet clear-cut. The Macbook Air/Intel Ultrabooks may yet be another category in there (SUV-equivalents?). Okay, maybe the analogy is getting a bit stretched….

      • Anonymous

        SUV for the Air is actually a brilliant extension of the analogy and makes perfect sense.

        I have an iPhone, iPad 2 and MacBook Air (and an Mini as an HTPC) and I kind of use them like that. iPhone for short trips around town (compact car), iPad for trips, vacations, browsing, reading and videos (feels like a bmw) and my MacBook Air for work, citrix etc (SUV). 

        I used to have to use my truck (MacBook Pro and before that a WinXP Vaio) for all of those things, inconvenient and overkill. 

        Horses for courses. 

  • Anonymous

    The whole iPad not being a PC is typical short term vision bullshit. It’s quite typical of analysts. Who are they to define that in order to qualify as a PC the machine needs to run Windows/Mac OS X/Linux? What are the technical or usability merits that separate a PC from a “Media Tablet”?

    Consumers don’t care about what analysts say. They have a budget and a desire to do certain things. They are buying iPads to do largely the same things they were doing with PCs using the money that was formerly destined to buy PCs.

  • http://twitter.com/slaven slaven

    Tablets are more expensive than Netbooks, have bigger screens, more CPU oomph, and are more portable, yet Netbooks are counted as PCs and tablets aren’t? As mentioned, Windows 8 will help clarify this mess.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu
    • Anonymous

      Anything to make the (failing) PC market look better.   They can only keep this up so long, eventually the truth wins out. Just like then the iPad was introduced, it got nothing but criticism and ridicule from the PC ‘industry’. Even the iPhone was ridiculed the same way. Meanwhile, every derivative copy or reaction to Apple’s influence is assumed to the ‘the one’ which will finally ‘kill’ the iPhone/iPad, etc…

      The funny part is that the ‘netbook’ was the ONLY segment of the PC market that was growing. Literally no one is buying these now? Who would? MSFT is left with the middle, as Apple has had the high end for a long while now, and they just took over the low end. Most people really don’t need a PC at all, and would be much happier with an iPad.

      And the ‘innovative’ space in the PC industry is trying to come up with a Macbook Air rip-off. And having no luck. They can’t make one that is even price competitive with the MBA, and only a fool would buy the copy in that case as it can’t run ANY of the Mac stuff (while the MBA runs literally anything.)

      It’s just hillarious at this point.

    • Tatil

      MS is moving away from its initial position of letting Win8 tablets running the desktop version: 
      http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-to-drop-desktop-app-from-windows-8-arm-tablets/11325
      I think this is the right way for a successful Win8 tablet ecosystem, but it will not change the OSX vs. iPad type of distinction between tablets and PCs. 

      • Anonymous

        It’s also giving over one of the strongest selling points, i.e., that you could run all your old Windows software on your tablet. And if Microsoft makes an Office pack for their Metro system and not for iOS, that’d be collusion and should be subject to a Justice Department anti-monopoly action.

      • Tatil

        MS offered tablets with desktop windows for a number of years and consumers showed no interest. Those tablets did not even require the existing apps to be recompiled for a new processor. If that approach failed so spectacularly then, it cannot be a strong selling point, let alone the strongest. 

        If a potential customer is thinking of hooking a keyboard and mouse to a tablet so often that it would affect his purchase decision, he would be better off getting a laptop. If you need a stake knife, do not buy a swiss army knife. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

        I think that @Sacto_Joe:disqus is referring to the “selling point” of Windows Tablets to IT.

        By providing the ability to run DeskTop apps (however badly) on a Windows tablet it gives IT a defense against the invasion of the iPads.

        IT could justify Windows 8 tablets by saying:

        We [will] have all the apps that you can run on an iPad… In addition, you can run your desktop Windows apps too!

        …Though the recent release of OnLive Desktop for the iPad, likely, mitigates that advantage.

      • Anonymous

        Dick is correct. I hadn’t heard about OnLive Desktop. I’ll check it out.

      • Tatil

        MS offered tablets with desktop windows for a number of years and consumers showed no interest. Those tablets did not even require the existing apps to be recompiled for a new processor. If that approach failed so spectacularly then, it cannot be a strong selling point, let alone the strongest. 

        If a potential customer is thinking of hooking a keyboard and mouse to a tablet so often that it would affect his purchase decision, he would be better off getting a laptop. If you need a stake knife, do not buy a swiss army knife. 

      • Tatil

        MS offered tablets with desktop windows for a number of years and consumers showed no interest. Those tablets did not even require the existing apps to be recompiled for a new processor. If that approach failed so spectacularly then, it cannot be a strong selling point, let alone the strongest. 

        If a potential customer is thinking of hooking a keyboard and mouse to a tablet so often that it would affect his purchase decision, he would be better off getting a laptop. If you need a stake knife, do not buy a swiss army knife. 

    • http://openid.aol.com/makesmelaughhard AppleKilledMobileFlash

      Clarify it or muddle it more?

  • Anonymous

    In terms of the “job to be done,” concept, I think people are hiring the iPad to do something different than the Kindle & Nook.  Setting aside the consumer market, corporate buyers and education buyers are hiring it to do general purpose computing (presentations, reading, email, surfing).  I think one can make the case that the Nook and Kindle do not serve this same purpose.  

    For the consumer market, I can only speak anecdotely, and say that buying an iPad has allowed my family to delay the purchase of a computer for the home, because we can use it for media consumption, gaming & light work email.

    So, this is a long-winded way of saying that, when Gartner finally changes the way they categorize, I assume they will not treat the Nook and Kindle in the same way.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

      5 years ago, my grandkids lost their paternal grandmother.  My son-in-law spent several weeks after the funeral creating a memorial video on DVD (about 150 hours of work) on an iMac.

      Last December, they lost their favorite uncle (my son-in-law’s older brother).  My son-in-law went to Canada to handle the funeral arrangements and the estate.  He asked his [soon to be] 16-year-old daughter, Marlowe, to create a memorial — as he could not spend the the time.

      He pointed Marlowe at an on-line family photo collection on Picassa.  There were thousands of photos (the family has 12 children and beau-coups grandchildren).

      Long story short.  Marlowe used her iPad 2 to sift through and download hundreds of pictures — then used iMovie on the iPad to create 3 separate video tributes lasting about 17 minutes total.

      The hardest part was selecting and downloading the pictures — after that, each video took 20-45 minutes (titles, background music, transitions, effects, etc.).

      They turned out very well and were uploaded to the web in time for the funeral service — and available to family members in US, Canada, Europe, Mideast for an online memorial…

      My point is that I think we should consider our [computing] tools as to how they expand our capabilities — rather than how they limit them.

  • Chris

    If you think of a market in the terms of a job to be done, then the iPad still doesn’t do all the things that a PC in the PC market can do. That is, you can do all the vid and email and, as I understand it, you can now do Word and Excel via the touch interface. But I don’t know if I would turn to the iPad to perform a job requiring hours long focus, such as cranking out a spreadsheet or writing a paper. Once they figure out how to make the touch interface less clumsy than the keyboard for something like a spreadsheet, then they really will and completely supplant PCs.
    On the other hand the iPad does a lot of jobs that a PC does not do as well. And these are the whole set of jobs I can do with diverted attention such as reading, texting, listening, talking, watching while walking/commuting/waiting.

    We know that PCs were not fully capable of performing all the jobs we would like in this semi-focus area. So I guess one implication of Horace’s question is whether the iPad can fully perform all the jobs in the focused job area. I would say the iPad still isn’t completely there.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The argument about the iPad not being good enough is subjective, however what happens when it does become good enough. What happens if/when a future version of the iPad does almost all that a PC can do. Early PCs were not comparable to the products they replaced. So where do you draw the line and what do you do about folding the new category into the old? Will you retroactively declare iPads to be PCs? Will you say that only iPads after version x are PCs? More importantly, how does someone in the industry come to think of these newfound competitors: do you tell them that last year the iPad was not a competitor but this year it is? Maybe you should have told the client in advance to take the threat seriously because they are already substituting the low-end of the market.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=524209399 Jon Sweet

        Yeah, I think one fairly objective “disruption threshold” criteria is when the (revenue or profit, probably not unit) share for the “inferior” device exceeds the same benchmark for the incumbent device class it’s “competing” against.   That’s probably a *very* high bar, so maybe it’s not a very useful criteria even for something as big/rapidly successful as the iPad, but at some point the PC market exceeded the mainframe market, and I bet the PC companies were gloating a bit the day that officially happened.

      • Anonymous

        The iPad can already do everything PCs were doing back in the 90s and do them better. And I’m talking heavy duty cpu intensive stuff—multi-track audio recording, video editing, graphics intensive games, photo editing, etc.

        Heck, _I_ wouldn’t want to spend hours in front of a computer churning out spreadsheets regardless of the interface. But you can put a keyboard to an iPad and prop it up like a display.

        I don’t think anyone has come up with a working definition of what makes a PC a PC. A mouse and keyboard? A USB port? A processor? Expansion ports? An OS? Heck, even DOS wasn’t an OS per se, certainly not what we think of an OS today. It handled some necessary background functions and rudimentary data file access, but the UI/UX was handled directly by the software application. How do DOS PCs count as PCs and iPads don’t?

        Joe

      • Gerry

        Local processing and storage were what defined a PC in the 80’s

      • Chris

        This is not to disparage the iPad but just to point out its present limitations for someone who is used to performing certain tasks in certain convenient ways.  It doesn’t mean that it won’t eventually get there either.

        But since the article brings up the problem of categories, I would say since the PC established the widespread use of spreadsheets and word processing and allowed me to do these jobs, then the iPad has to at least perform these jobs as well in order to be considered PC category. There is a hurdle it has to get over.

        What if iPad never gets good enough (something I doubt.) But for argument’s sake, it would be wrong to label it as something that we associate with certain jobs that we hope it can do in the future. On that basis I could call my pocket calculator a PC.

        After all these are the tasks we have come to associate with the term PC over the past 30 years. How else do we define markets other than the place for products that can perform the jobs we want them to perform at the present time?

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        The tasks that the PC is hired to do (spreadsheets and word processing and presentations) were not tasks that Mainframes of Mini computers were hired to do. In fact, it took decades before PCs were allowed to do the tasks of their predecessors. If mainstream computer makers in the 80s were coddled by data into thinking that PCs were not “real computers” that could be used for mission critical accounting and other functions then they were not well served by the analyst.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

        Boom!

        The other side of that story is that the Maimframe [sic] and Minis never caught up and offered what the PCs had with spreadsheets and presentations.  Wang was the dominant word-processing solution when PCs arrived on the scene — and the PCs put them out of business.

        Why?

        Cost!  Accessibility!  Usability! Opportunity!

        Hmm…  makes one wonder what the appeal of the iPad is…

      • http://openid.aol.com/makesmelaughhard AppleKilledMobileFlash

        I spent quite a bit of time learning a couple of Wang Lab OIS systems for word processing for legal documents.  A couple of years later those systems got replaced by low-cost IBM-DOS desktops running Multimate or WordStar.  Damn, I was blown away.  It was easy enough to adapt, but jeez. They both had screens, keyboards and floppy disks.   Anyone could have the equivalent of a high-end word processing system on their desk for a mere pittance of the cost of a real Wang system.  Well, that was the end of Wang Laboratories except places that needed clusters of workstations accessing the same files.  You just never know when the world is going to change overnight.

        I didn’t gripe or complain.  I just adapted and the PC and then the Mac became my usual tools like there was nothing to it.  No point in holding onto the past as long as you can get the tasks you need done quickly, no matter what the device.  Paradigms shift and definitions change.  That’s just progress.

      • Chris

        I think you misunderstand me. I am not suggesting iPads are not computers. I am suggesting they are not personal computers. They are as Apple has itself suggested a new category. If they do the task of PCs as I am suggesting, that is jobs requiring hours long work (and there are many of these), then they can be categorized as belonging to the PC market and perhaps other categories of computers as well, if they are able to do the jobs of these markets. For example an iPad can also be categorized as a camera belonging to the camera market because it currently does this job…and a music player, and a photo album, etc.

      • Z Kariv

        The way I look at this article is not if the IPad belong to which category but rather if it replacing the “traditional” PC or not and if so at what rate (or pace). If I am to alocate certain resources to creat new “something” to compeat or compliment this market, should I look at PC, IPad or both and projecting foreward where should I concentrate my efforts. As long as Gartner give us the true numbers, and as long as Horace (thank you again) churn these numbers to a clear train of thoughts it make no diferent if the IPad will be under “washing machine” category

      • Chris

        Yes, that is the whole question: Can it do the jobs that have evolved through the use of the PC or provide us better ways of doing them? 

        As I stated earlier, if it does then it will supplant  our present-day tools.

      • Anonymous

        For the disruption to be complete, what you’re suggesting is in my opinion insufficient. I think the real question is: can it make the jobs we currently do obsolete? Can the iPad, together with everything else that’s happening, restructure and reform the way companies operate? If not, then it is just an evolutionary device.

      • Kizedek

        The irony of your statement being that iPads are, of course, even “more personal” than “personal computers”.

        “Personal computers” are often shared between three or four people with differ user accounts, or provided in a tethered, working environment. People tend to get their own iPad, one each, and configure it accordingly.

        And yes, because it can do all the jobs you mention, as a general purpose device, people will be able to justify purchasing one each for each family member.

        Therefore, the impact of iPad sales on PCs will only be compounded!

        Sent from my iPad.

      • Anonymous

        I think that one issue of this discussion is that, just like PCs at their time, the iPad is not merely just another PC replacing the laptop/desktop. PCs were a new category, and they radically changed the jobs people do. Not the way people do their jobs, they changed the very jobs. The question now is if the iPad (and other tablets) will do the same.

        To be honest, I’ve often wondered what is the fundamental need for so many people to write long documents and do complicated spreadsheets? I can see certain cases where they are more or less absolutely necessary, but generally speaking I’d guess 90% of documents and spreadsheets created are pretty much useless. And considering the imminent future: for young people, video is more important that reading text, and I don’t really see text making a comeback, at least not in the “long form”.

        I haven’t really formulated my thoughts on this matter yet, but I believe the need to write long documents and create complex spreadsheets will greatly diminish. In certain cases (doing analysis, for example) they will maintain their advantages over new methods, but for communicating information I believe video (or whatever comes next) will be king. In this light, the iPad is not really at any kind of disadvantage over traditional PCs, and you could argue that it is actually a better fit for the jobs-to-be-done.

      • Chris

        I think spreadsheets and their ability to perform scores of simultaneous computations allow us to understand complex situations. The material in this site is evidence of that. The pretty charts don’t come from nowhere.

        Similarly, long documents, such as books and articles are the narrative forms necessary to explain these complex situations. This site is also an example of this. 

      • Anonymous

        High level computation should be done by far more powerful computers than even PC’s. That’s where Cloud Computing will excel (no pun intended). A tablet will simply be the highly portable front end that presents the data in some user-friendly format like a graph. In that scenario, who needs a desktop, especially if your tablet can display your data on a big screen TV?

      • Chris

        Yes, I think you’re right. But did you read my earlier comments? 

        The iPad UI, in my opinion, doesn’t allow you to input or manipulate data, as readily as you can with a keyboard and mouse for hours long work, which is still the most efficient way most people in offices have to work. My fingers are just too fat and misplaced. This not to say the UI is not good for the other things you are talking about.

        Conversely, if you dock the iPad in a keyboard that is essentially the same form factor as a desktop or laptop.  

        What I am looking for is for the touch interface to provide as good or better performance than  a PC. Unfortunately I have grown accustomed to typing without looking and getting some tactile feedback when I need to know whether or not I have pressed a key. 

        So I’m still looking for the person who stands at the intersection of the humanities and technology to reimagine a better way to manipulate and input data than a simulated QWERTY keyboard on a touch screen. That’s the challenge that iPad UI or its successor have yet to meet in my opinion. And I hope they are able to meet it. I have some confidence they will.

      • Anonymous

        In all honesty, I feel that the Excel interface is only barely tolerable. On the Windows side it is slightly better, but on OS X it’s borderline atrocious. Whenever I use Excel, I constantly think to myself that there must be a better way to do all that I’m doing. Horace uses Numbers, and I’ve tried it on a few occasions but for some reason I can’t seem to get friendly with it. But even Numbers UI is basically the same paradigm as Excel, just made simpler and easier.

        But try to imagine the UI for an iPad spreadsheet. What would a spreadsheet become with direct manipulation via touches? I am absolutely convinced that there is a breakthrough just waiting to be discovered. Well, at least I’m waiting for it.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, this site is a good example. I’d argue that this site also falls within the 10%. My outlook may be grim, but in my limited experience roughly 90% of documents produced by companies are pointless and serve no other purpose than to fill up archive space, be it virtual or physical.

        Even for understanding complex situation, there are way better methods for both analysis and presentation than long documents. Of course, with the caveat that people actually learn and remember different kinds of material differently, so for some people long, textual presentations may be the best option.

        Against this background, the weaker text entry capabilities of the iPad might end up being a catalyst for a greater good. Though that might just be baseless optimism on my part…

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        But you have to look at a product’s trajectory, even if the company itself does not. That’s where you, the analyst, add value. Telling it like it is today is journalism not analysis.

      • Chris

        OK, I concede this. It is useful to see things this way for purposes of analysis. It’s just a little difficult to get my mind around.

        If we use your prof.’s example of the local telephone disrupting the telegraph market, then, by similar use of terms, the telephone should be counted as a telegraph, not as a different category. And maybe people did call  the telephone a telegraph when the telephone was being introduced. 
        Going farther out years from now  I think people will gradually come to draw the distinction between the PC and tablets because of the different UI, just as they did with the telegraph and telephone because of the different mode of communication.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        The telephone and telegraph should be seen as hired to send messages to people. Categorization is extremely important as a lens through which you see every aspect of your business. If you maintain rigid categorization (typically driven by market data) you fail to see not only the consumer’s intentions but your competitors’ and even your own priorities.
        The story of telegraph is very important. Had Western Digital seen itself as a communications company, not a telegraph company, they might have embraced the disruption rather than rejecting it.
        HP and Dell and all the fallen PC giants of yesteryear saw mobility as a disruptive force and rejected it for the same reason as Nokia and RIM saw computing as a disruptive force. The only computer company that made the transition successfully to mobility so far is Apple and I believe the reason is that they did not categorize their view of the market but saw the jobs to be done that were done badly.

      • Sander van der Wal

        The personal bit of a PC meant that you were the only human using the computer, that you had complete control over the software that ran on the computer. This is from the time that mainframes and mini’s were time-sharing multi-user systems. Remember that PC’s were born as devices for the enthusiast. Business and scientific use came later.

        As far as I am concerned, the only difference between an iPad and other tables and PC’s, mini’s and mainframes is that you cannot create programs for the iPad on the iPad. It has always been possible to program computers on the device itself (even if it was using switches to enter machine code).

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        The tasks that the PC is hired to do (spreadsheets and word processing and presentations) were not tasks that Mainframes of Mini computers were hired to do. In fact, it took decades before PCs were allowed to do the tasks of their predecessors. If mainstream computer makers in the 80s were coddled by data into thinking that PCs were not “real computers” that could be used for mission critical accounting and other functions then they were not well served by the analyst.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

        We are al all Mac household (5 people) — never owned a PC. 

        We have 3 iMacs and each has his own iPad. We no-longer have Windows (Parallels) or any Mac OS X MS-Office Apps on any of our computers.Personally, I do about 5 spreadsheets and 5 wp documents a year, or less.My daughter has similar (but greater) needs, as she is active in school(s) and the church.My grandkids use the iMacs and/or their iPads  to do surfing, reading (books for reports), Pages (including pictures and charts) for their homework.We have no MS OS or MS [production] apps anywhere… (we have a few MS iPad apps that are seldom used).I don’t know if we are typical… but I suspect if we needed a “truck” we would own or rent, or rent time on one.It will be interesting to see what the business/enterprise will look like when the grandkids enter it in the next 5-8 years.  I suspect that the businesses/enterprises will have powerful “truck” apps running on their cloud and back room servers.  The employees will access the data and apps via a mobile device of their choice — while in the office, home, on assignment or just out and about.We are already starting to see this…The “trucks” won’t be clumsy desktop computers as we know them — rather, they will be powerful, highly-efficent, easy-to-maintain, headless servers in the back room or in the cloud.  Those few, who need more powerful capability in the home, will likely have have a headless home server that provides compute power and enough storage to stage data between the home and the cloud/office servers.Truly creative and productive people will get their “tasks” accomplished  wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself — rather than only when tethered to a desk.

      • Chris

        An iMac is not a PC (a personal computer)?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

        I corrected it to Windows PC…

        I normally differentiate Macs and PCs — and use “personal computers” to designate hardware that runs any of the OSes that survived from the era of microcomputers.

        Today, that would likely include iOS and Android…

        It is getting blurry :)

      • Just a Guy

        I recall an infographic showing that the iPhone of year X had the same specs (but a smaller monitor) than the iMac of 1998. Is screen size and external keyboard what we’re really arguing about? Because my bluetooth keyboard works FINE with the iPhone.

    • Anonymous

      A netbook cannot do all the jobs that a high-end workstation can do. Where do you draw the line? Is superior spreadsheet performance the defining characteristic of a PC? That seems like an odd benchmark.

    • Anonymous

      We use the iPad as a trading order execution sheet, while our “real” computers with multiple screens act as terminals displaying graphs and data of all types. 

      Our “real” computers have become dumb, while our “not real or useless” iPad became our order and routing manager for our trades.

      The great thing is the execution process follows us instead of remaining at a particular desk.

  • David W.

    Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, it was determined that PCs weren’t “real” computers. A real computer had an IT team that consisted of Cobol programmers, database managers, and other managers. Most people weren’t suppose to touch them because they were critical infrastructure. If you needed something, you’d talk to IT, and they would produce a monthly or weekly report that would be placed on your desk.

    A PC was none of those things. It had little memory, and it’s CPU chip was a joke. A real CPU had it’s own box and consisted of several boards filled with electronics. A PC was simply not a computer. 

    If Gartner was around back then, they would declare that the newly created PC would have no effect on companies like Wang, DEC, Burroughs, and Sperry.

    • OpenMinde

      Not sure will Gartner be around once iPad is a PC according to so called “analyst”.

    • OpenMinde

      Not sure will Gartner be around once iPad is a PC according to so called “analyst”.

    • http://openid.aol.com/makesmelaughhard AppleKilledMobileFlash

      Where I worked it was exactly how you described it since I was the guy that basically ran the reports and kept the local hardware functioning.  Eventually there were people in our NY office that used personal computers running DBase and the programmers made certain data accessible for the accountants to be able to be able to customize their own reports right on the PC.  The PCs were hooked up to an IBM 3274 cluster controller and each PC had their own 3278 emulator cards in them.  The cluster controller and modem were connected to the mincomputer over an expensive leased line.  However the IT center’s minicomputer down in North Carolina was certainly beyond our realm.  The IT center minicomputer was the company’s real computer, not the IBM-ATs.

    • http://profiles.google.com/theonetruestripes Josh Osborne

      They would have been right for a while.  In the 1970s PCs had no impact on mainframe sales.   I think in the 1980s PC impact on mainframe sales was actually pretty small, the real toll was from upstart “Unix-like workstations” (like the new Sun Microsystems sold).    What we think of as PCs didn’t start to impact mainframe (and “workstation”) sales until the 1990s (and interestingly enough, some of the “mainframes” are now sold because of the large numbers of PCs out there, but most of the impact has been very negative)

      Which isn’t to say the same cycle won’t happen far far faster this time.   Or that we won’t see something very different.

      • Dick Applebaum

        With 2 others, I owned Computer stores in Silicon Valley 1978-1989 — we were, primarily Apple dealers, then later added the IBM PC. My background was maimframe computers including 16 1/2 years at IBM.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

        Sorry for the truncated post — it won’t let me edit it.

        With 2 others, I owned Computer stores in Silicon Valley 1978-1989 — we were, primarily Apple dealers, then later added the IBM PC. My background was maimframe computers including 16 1/2 years at IBM.

        In my experience, the point where personal computers began to erode mainframe computer sales was in 1979 when VisiCalc arrived on the scene.

        In those days IT was called DP (Data Processing).  The typical DP department had a backlog of 18-24 months before the could begin implementing an app after it was approved.

        Any fast growing department had to look to other than DP for budget preparation, forecasting, cost analysis…

        For example, a department proposing a new product could not wait 18-24 months for DP to begin working on an app to do forecasting and analysis of alternatives for a new product. Analyzing alternatives with manual methods was slow, expensive and error-prone.

        Instead, the department could buy the necessary hardware and VisiCalc for less than $5,000 and do repetitive “What if” analyses by changing a few variables and recalculating a VisiCalc spreadsheet.

        VisiCalc wasn’t perfect — but it was “good enough” to address the ad hoc Departmental needs, which DP could never address.

        You had to be there to realize the significance, as the only alternatives were manual number crunching with pencil, paper and calculator — or waiting 18-24 months to begin programming a custom app.

        Consider, if you will, that Horace would not be able to publish this article in a timely, meaningful way without a spreadsheet running on a personal computer.

      • http://profiles.google.com/theonetruestripes Josh Osborne

        I stand corrected. Thanks for the insight!

  • http://wmilliken.livejournal.com/ Walter Milliken

    Amusing understatement in Gartner’s report:

    “Apple enjoyed the strongest growth among the top five vendors”

    In fact, Apple had the *only* growth (not even including the iPad) among the top five vendors in their PC data. Though the “Other” category did increase 12%, presumably due to Lenovo’s strong showing just off the chart in sixth place.I wonder how long it will be before Gartner and IDC decide that Macs aren’t part of the “PC” market at all, since they don’t normally run Windows. On the other hand, that will make the PC market declines look worse if Apple keeps taking share in the  conventional PC market. Hey, if they included iPads in the PC market, it would show surging growth….

  • Moctavio

    Many people were buying PC’s to surf the web, email and organize pictures. You can do all of that in a tablet and use apps and use it as a reader as a bonus, the tablet is definitely cannibalizing that.

    As to the Nook and the Kindle fire, include them, but I can’t get too excited about what it is and will remain for a while essentially US-centric products. The Nook and Kindle Fire rely on consumers buying product, something which is much more complicated to internationalize than a product like the iPad or Galaxy Tablet that stands on its own. 25% (and growing!) of Apple’s revenues are Asian, how much of Amazon’s or Barnes and Noble’s? Without that internationalization, those products will have difficulties growing  long term.

  • http://rob53.myopenid.com/ Robert

    Semantics, why are we arguing about two stupid little words? I found a very simple definition for a personal computer: A computer built around a microprocessor for use by an individual, as in an office or at home or school.

    You can always get pickier but I like this definition. Of course, using this definition brings in a whole lot of products analysts and “real” computer vendors don’t want to include because it reduces their cut of the market. Tablets, netbooks, smartphones, laptops, desktops, and workstations are all PCs while servers and supercomputers are not. I can’t see special purpose devices like GPSs and automobile “computer” displays as PCs either. You have to draw the line somewhere. With this in mind, I see no reason why all analyses of PCs shouldn’t include iPads, Kindles, Nooks, any other tablet that actually ships, as well as “historical” versions of PCs. 

    • http://wmilliken.livejournal.com/ Walter Milliken

      I think you need to add something to the definition along the lines of “with the ability to run general-purpose, 3rd-party programs” to exclude various embedded systems, including things like the e-ink Kindle (and yes, there is a very limited ability to run additional code even there, so it’s murky). The general-purpose, easily-extensible nature of the PC platform is a crucial aspect.

    • jawbroken

      It’s clear from the article that the question isn’t just “semantic”, it’s about trying to understand the extent to which these products compete with and substitute for each other.

  • http://rob53.myopenid.com/ Robert

    Semantics, why are we arguing about two stupid little words? I found a very simple definition for a personal computer: A computer built around a microprocessor for use by an individual, as in an office or at home or school.

    You can always get pickier but I like this definition. Of course, using this definition brings in a whole lot of products analysts and “real” computer vendors don’t want to include because it reduces their cut of the market. Tablets, netbooks, smartphones, laptops, desktops, and workstations are all PCs while servers and supercomputers are not. I can’t see special purpose devices like GPSs and automobile “computer” displays as PCs either. You have to draw the line somewhere. With this in mind, I see no reason why all analyses of PCs shouldn’t include iPads, Kindles, Nooks, any other tablet that actually ships, as well as “historical” versions of PCs. 

  • http://twitter.com/WaltFrench Walt French

    “I combined their estimates with known shipments from Apple and separated Apple’s performance from the Windows-based market.”

    I’ll guess that Gartner will follow your lead in doing just that: they will aggregate any machine that can run even a small subset of Windows7/8 executables (including e.g., an ARM Metro tablet) and simply drop all the Android, iOS, MacOSX and *nix machines as being irrelevant to the question of choices within that environment.

    Then, they can offer separate “cross-platform,” task-focused studies on mostly-keyboardless tablets, servers, etc.

    Not just “problem solved,” but “Win-Win!”

  • Anonymous

    A similar time line on income and profit (or average selling price) might expose the effect more dramatically. My bet is profit in PC is moving to Apple PCs and average selling price is going up as ultra cheap Netbooks are replaced by iPads and perhaps smart phones. This latter is suspect since smartphones predate the PC collapse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.scariati James Scariati

    Gruber had an interesting comment on this issue recently – what happens when Windows 8 tablets ship? Gartner classifies the iPad as a “media tablet,” which hides its astronomical growth and effect on the Windows PC market. But when Windows 8 tablets ship, Gartner will presumably count those as “PCs” and therefore will HAVE to count iPads as PCs also.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.scariati James Scariati

    Horace, how come the red line for “iPad only” doesn’t start until Q211, but the green line for “Mac + iPad” goes back further? If you know what the combined growth was for the Mac and iPad together, wouldn’t you also know what the growth was for the iPad alone during the same period?

    • Gordan

      Numbers look to be year over year growth.  The iPad y/y numbers start 1 year after its introduction.  The iPad + Mac looks to compare the total unit sales of iPad + Macs to the previous year’s (no iPads) + Macs starting the first quarter iPads were available.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The green line measures the growth of Mac+iPad vs. Mac+iPad the year before. The red line measures the growth of iPad vs. the iPad the year before. The green line can have a value if iPad is zero the year before but the red line cannot.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The green line measures the growth of Mac+iPad vs. Mac+iPad the year before. The red line measures the growth of iPad vs. the iPad the year before. The green line can have a value if iPad is zero the year before but the red line cannot.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The green line measures the growth of Mac+iPad vs. Mac+iPad the year before. The red line measures the growth of iPad vs. the iPad the year before. The green line can have a value if iPad is zero the year before but the red line cannot.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m haunted by words from Steve Jobs (referring to the Mac) “it’s just another device”. Apple may sell you devices but what they want you to use is the system. The iPhone, iPad, Mac are just windows into your digital existence. It’s a bit like measuring housing sales and disagreeing whether a sliding glass door is a window or a door, it’s not very useful. Some people have occasion to buy windows or doors, but many more buy houses & condos and rent apartments. See also Jobs’ statement of having “cracked” TV. The new TV will be viewed on whatever devices best suit our needs, connecting content providers directly to content viewers. There won’t be a “TV set”. Also, no middleman will be grandfathered, instead they’ll have to prove their worth in/to the ecosystem.

    • davel

      Many in the computer industry have been lusting after this day. Not only Steve Jobs but Bill Gates has talked about a system of devices that the consumer will use beyond the personal computer. Both companies envisioned the PC as the center of the universe.

      When Apple dropped computer from its corporate name I was confused. Steve saw the success of the iPod and knew the future.

      Today the phone is the center of the universe and not the PC. Apple just introduced over the air updates for its devices ushering in the demise of the PC as the center of the universe. With iCloud you do not even need it as a repository which iTunes has always used the PC for.

      Everyone has a phone and everyone wants to be entertained. Whatever the iTV turns into the phone or tablet will be part of it. I used to believe that Apple will produce an Apple TV, but am becoming unconvinced that they will do so. To have the Apple electronics built in makes it an iMac for the living room.However the cost and upgradeability argues against it. I am thinking that the current Apple TV may be the form factor. One box to rule them all. One cable to the TV. When you need to upgrade your entertainment console you do so without having to replace the TV itself.

      • Anonymous

        Well put. However, I think the future is not device-centric. We’ll use lots of types of devices, but it’s not the device that we’ll be thinking about. The device has/will become just another component in the system. Most people, most of the time will see the system and not the components. The exception will be advanced users/uses, which still come out ahead since they can focus on the components they want to, and not worry about the rest.

  • Darwinphish

    Horace:

    Are you assuming all non-Apple PCs run Windows?  Microsoft has been reporting about 50 million Windows 7 sales per quarter . That leaves around 35 million non-Windows, non-Mac PC sales.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Yes I am. Keep in mind that many computers are sold without operating systems. That does not mean they run anything but Windows.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Yes I am. Keep in mind that many computers are sold without operating systems. That does not mean they run anything but Windows.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Yes I am. Keep in mind that many computers are sold without operating systems. That does not mean they run anything but Windows.

    • davel

      Sure. Some computers run linux or unix, but it is widely reported that in asia they just steal the windows license.

      Many server computers run unix/linux as part of a compute farm. Companies will just install their own OS or have it installed by the manufacturer. You just burn a standard hard drive and plop it in.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5BHLNE6HC75ETNMNDKEEKLMF3M Steve Pederson

    The idea that an iPad has to do spreadsheets and long document processing as well as a PC to be in the same category is absurd. Many many PCs are not hired to do those jobs. You might as well require them to do software compilation, web development and run Photoshop well.

    Don’t confuse your own use case with everyone’s use case.

    And here’s an anecdote. I have a friend who is a writer and just got an iPad. She absolutely prefers it to writing on her Mac. Not a computer power user, obviously, but is very serious about her writing, and finds the simplicity and single task focus of her iPad superior.

    The reality is that one of these statements is true (pick the one you like):

    – iPads are PCs.
    or
    – The PC is in decline.

    If you make PCs or PC-related products for a living, the semantics matter not.

    • davel

      Horace posted an article a long time ago about the post PC era. He did this before other articles I have read declaring the end of the PC.

      There are photoshop applications on the iPad. Adobe gives a very rudimentary one for free.

      As the devices get more robust with more powerful processors and more memory the ‘power apps’ will be more widespread and the distinction between is a tablet a computer or not will disappear.

      For the record tablets are computers just as all smartphones are as well as digital wristwatches.

      This is the same argument as before. Years ago people were arguing if personal computers were really computers. What is past is prologue.

      • Just Iain

        Davel, you could add the fact that Adobe previewed new (and as yet not released)  iPad apps doing some serious photoshop editing. Sorry I don’t have a link. Adobe is starting to realise that while lots of photographers might lust after a full copy of Photoshop, only a small minority spend the money. So they have to chase a large and fast growing market or be left behind. 

        Autodesk (AutoCad) has admitted that the iPad is significant enough to justify spending money on just to have the name on peoples screens. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5BHLNE6HC75ETNMNDKEEKLMF3M Steve Pederson

    Then again, if iPads are not PCs… they’re a classic disruptor, right? What incumbent saw it coming? And they probably rationalized away the first year of that chart.

  • mdc

    My conclusion is that the user determines the definition of their device. My iPhone is less a phone or computer than it is a Theremin, if I am a professional Thereminist. I recently had an absurd argument with a journalist as to whether or not the iPad was a true mobile device, for crisesake. So I think the controversy attests to the disruptiveness of the iPad. Is it a PC? Would a rose by another name not smell as sweet?

  • I Robot

    It does not matter at all what you call the categories or what you put in them. What matters is substitution. Did you postpone or cancel a purchase, choosing somethign else instead because it was a sufficient substitute? We don’t really know for sure, but it sure looks like iPad is substituting at the low end. Will the low end move up over time? Arguing over what is and is not a PC is silly.

    • Roni_smith

      I did not buy a MacBook Pro because I was waiting for the iPad 1 to come out.  

  • Anonymous

    I’m a touch typist myself (>100 wpm), and there’s no question that typing on a keyboard is far superior to typing on a a tablet. However, having said that, I find it a total pain in the butt to haul around a keyboard for those few times (like this response) when I just want to dash off a few sentences. It took me a couple of months, but I finally gained some decent proficiency on the tablet vis-a-vis touch-typing.

    I am also looking forward to Siri coming to the iPad. I think that will be a major enhancement in the computer/human interface.
     I’m also waiting patiently for some kind of a decent CAD package to find its way to the iPad. I’ve used CAD for several decades now, including solid modelling, and to my mind the iPad is a perfect match for drafting “in the field”.

    Fiinally, I must disagree with the broad statement that the iPad “doesn’t allow you to input or manipulate date as readily as you can with a keyboard and mouse”. There are many, many apps that excel specifically because they are designed to work with a touchscreen. Garageband comes immediately to mind. Of course, in the case of Garageband, you could say that an instrument, like an electric keyboard or electric guitar, is preferable. But again, it’s about the convenience of having everything in one convenient, lightweight place.

    Just my 2 cents worth….

    • davel

      I agree. The iPad is not the same as a general computer. The touch is not as responsive with a noticeable lag when using the keyboard. However, the portability far outweighs its shortcomings as a general consumption device. Its browser is pretty good especially after allowing tabs.

      Although I have not used it Apple does provide a word processor and a spreadsheet for a nominal amount. So there are data generation applications available. I have used notepad many times and it works fine.

      That said it is not a data generation tool at this time. I think as it matures with more powerful processors and more memory these impediments will go away.

      I agree that Siri would be great on the tablet. As the product moves from beta to regular application it will be at the forefront of user interaction with their devices.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

        Back in the 80’s when I was a spreadsheet junkie, some enterprising people were playing with an implementation where:

        1) a simple set of numbers were entered into a spreadsheet

        2) a simple chart was generated from the basic numbers

        Then, the chart, itself, was manipulated to generate additional data points, e.g. subdivide a quarterly forecast into 4 monthly forecasts…

        The chart [manipulation] generated the numbers rather than vice versa.

        I retired in 1989 and abandoned most spreadsheet usage, so I do not know if this capability was exploited (or even what to search for).

        If it is available today (or could be made available) it would be a great alternative for some classes of spreadsheet use.

        Here is one way that a touch interface could be superior to the traditional mouse/kb interface.

  • davel

    Your graphs once again rule the day.

    I notice that both the mac and the pc sales rates have drooped since 2010. It is clear from the charts that the advent of the iPad have some measurable impact on both the mac and pc sales, but as Apple has said itself more so for the PC.

    *Note I am using common semantics where PC is IBM PC compatible while Mac is the Macintosh computer.

    • Anonymous

      I wouldn’t say that Mac sales have drooped at all. The growth rate has come down a bit, but at no point has there been any risk of declining sales. Which is in stark contrast with the PC sales, which, indeed, have drooped on occasion. And until Windows 8 ships, there is little the PC makers can do to reverse the trend.

      • davel

        I disagree. The chart shows a drop of 1/3 in terms of growth. That is pretty significant.

        Who cares about Windows 8? A few years ago it was wait till Windows 7. How did that work out?

        We shall see if Microsoft’s common interface strategy has any effect on people’s buying decisions. Without any access to Windows 8 I feel it is a non event. Does this mean everyone is giving up the mouse and keyboard for the finger? If not how do you have a unified interface?

        I have not looked, but I do not see a coherent strategy here.

      • Anonymous

        I did not mean to imply that Windows 8 will turn the tide, my point was that the hardware vendors don’t have the means to drive the platform further. Or does anybody really believe that ultrabooks are going to bring in great growth? They are dependent on Microsoft to provide the advances in the software, and on that side of the fence nothing is going to happen until Windows 8 ships.

        As for the growth rates, we just have to agree to disagree.

      • Just Iain

        fiftysixty, I suspect that ultrabooks are Intel and OEMs desperately trying to climb into Apples profit margin. And yet most comments I’ve read indicate that anyone concerned about cost will just grab a ‘good enough’ laptop. 

      • Anonymous

        From what I understand, Intel has no problem with profit margins, but the OEMs surely do. So yes, for their part ultrabooks are, as you say, a desperate attempt for better margins. Will it work to any significant degree?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

    Honest questions:

    Horace, what percentage of an article like this do you research and prepare:

    — on an iPad
    — on a personal computer

    Why?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      It only depends on where I am. I am never far from a desk so I work mostly on a PC. If my life required me to be away from a desk more often then I imagine my use of iPad would increase.

  • Anonymous

    iPad is a mobile PC, same as iPhone is a mobile phone. It could not be simpler.

    A high-end mobile PC for $500 makes sense for a lot of buyers instead of a $500 low-end portable PC or desktop PC. They overlap in price and functionality.

    All you have to do is look at Windows 8 to see that even Microsoft knows this is where $500 PC’s are going.

    • Anonymous

      iPad is a mobile PC, iPhone is a pocket PC. I use it as vastly more things than a phone.

  • Stefan Sidahmed

    I haven’t had a desktop since 1996, so at some point, the laptop became a suitable replacement… for me.  I gave up power and price for portability. 

    I prefer to see the iPad and other tablets tracked separately from desktops and laptops so I can see the trends for each form factor and functionality.  The desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone all have functions which
    overlap and functions which do not.  The important thing to understand
    is what the consumer gives up and at the same time gains from switching
    between products (power, screen size, portability, user interface, price, etc.). 

    I have a macbook and an iPad and use both.  The iPad is not a replacement product, but rather a complementary product.

    They are all computers and they are all personal, but they are not the same.

    • Anonymous

      I have a friend who I talked into purchasing a 13″ MacBook Pro instead of an iMac. He does graphic design and illustration work. He has, since then, thanked me for pushing the laptop. Of course, an iMac would be better for his work, but overall the portability has been a bigger benefit, by far.

      When we think about the devices and try to objectively weigh the pros and cons of each device category, we seemingly tend to downplay how lazy we people are. Apart from the few ones with the mental fortitude, we choose the path of least (physical) resistance. If that means sacrificing some other features, so be it. We just are that lazy.

  • Anonymous

    According to a new study by IDG Connect, 12% of iPad business users have ditched their laptop while 72% say they use their laptop less now because of the iPad. I find 12% to be surprisingly high; it implies that there is no doubt the iPad is a PC replacement to a significant number of people. The study itself says implies that 12% is less than expected, but I choose to disagree.

    http://www.idgconnect.com/research_item/8007?source=connect

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

      You do realize that there are a few people here who will argue that this doesn’t mean that the iPad is a PC replacement or is doing the work of a “personal” computer…

      Obviously, if the computer is being used in the enterprise — by definition it cannot be a “personal” computer.

      /sarcasm

  • Anonymous

    Of course the iPad is a computer, but whether it’s a “PC” depends upon who is doing the categorizing, and to whom they are selling the report. 

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  • Scott

    I think the headline should be “Will the PC Become and iPad”. More and more PCs will transform into iPads/Tablets.

    • Scott

      Oops “Will the PC Become an iPad”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lance-Newcomb/100001543131964 Lance Newcomb

    The iPad is an iPod Touch with a bigger screen, not a PC or a tablet.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The PC is a big iPod touch with a big mechanical keyboard.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GB2MGWMCEI3WN7T3ASDVL3A64E Seth E

    Computer = “programmable machine designed to automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations” (from Wikipedia)
    PC = computer designed for use by an individual.

    Seems to me that the iPad, iPhone and even iPod touch meet all of the above. You could raise the (reasonable) objection that none of them are programmable by end users, but the number of end users who actually program their PCs is very small so this would have almost no impact on the real issue at stake here which is substitutability.

    Ultimately most users can use touch screen iDevices do most of the things they used to do on PCs and the list of things they can’t do is shrinking over time.

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  • Rob

    Ballmer thinks it is: http://youtu.be/VWkRgNTJZuM