Last Friday, Joe Wilcox raised the thorny question of whether the iPad is really a PC. It is thorny not just in terms of philosophical and taxonomic abstractions, but in terms of counting by major PC market researchers, Gartner and IDC.
According to Apple’s fiscal third calendar-quarter earnings announcement, 3.472 million Macs shipped during calendar Q2. Apple also shipped 3.27 million iPads. If iPad counts as a PC and the numbers are combined, then Apple shipped 6.742 million personal computers during second quarter. That’s high enough to raise Apple to No. 5 in global PC shipments.
Complete US information is not available, but Wilcox’s analysis shows that adding iPads to the PC total could well put Apple in 3rd place behind market leaders HP and Dell and perhaps higher in Q2. As for Q3:
But what about third quarter? Could Apple top Dell or HP? The answer would depend on how iPad is classified. Is it a PC? If, yes, then based on analysts projections for PCs, Macs and iPads, Apple almost certainly could sell more units than HP or Dell in the United States. I’ve seen Wall Street analysts’ iPad shipment estimates range from about 4 million to over 5 million units. Macs: Hovering above 3 million units. Assuming even half the combined Macs and iPads were sold here, Apple would be in striking distance of topping either HP or Dell.
All of this is more important than bragging rights, of course. The real question is what the iPad surge is doing to the bottom line of the Windows PC hardware makers and to Microsoft’s cash cows of Windows and Office. There may be plenty of room for all with the iPad style tablets creating a wholly new market, but how many iPads are purchased in lieu of a PC or an additional PC? I add that last caveat because the iPad currently has a strong functional dependence on another PC running iTunes so I find it hard to imagine an iPad-only user. Still, grabbing the second PC market has got to hit the Windows PC food chain. Once again, I have to observe that this market could have been Microsoft’s – now we get to see what penalty they will pay for missing it.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave his maiden Consumer Electronic Show keynote yesterday and if it was just as soporific as Bill Gates’ past performances, it mercifully skipped the goofy "future tech" skits that Microsoft’s PR folks used to put Gates through. In a nutshell, the message was "Windows 7, Windows 7, Windows 7" plus the obligatory appearance by Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices chief Robbie Bach to once again whistle past the graveyard and say that everything on his patch was swell.
“I’m thrilled to announce the availability of the Windows 7 beta, which is on track to deliver simplicity and reliability,” Ballmer said. “Windows 7 and Windows Live are part of an incredible pipeline of consumer technology that is making it easier than ever for people to communicate, share and get more done.”
The beta version of Windows 7, Microsoft’s next-generation PC operating system, can be downloaded today by MSDN, TechBeta and TechNet customers. Consumers who want to test-drive the beta will be able to download it beginning Jan. 9 at http://www.microsoft.com/windows7.
Microsoft also announced the global availability of Windows Live, a free suite of communications and sharing applications.
Actually that’s not all the ten thousand different Windows Live applications, but just Windows Live Essentials, the bundle of Windows applications you will have to download to give Windows 7 the same functionality as Windows XP. In which respect there was good news for Dell customers:
In February, to offer a comprehensive experience for consumers to connect, share and personalize their content, Dell will offer preloaded Windows Live Essentials (a free suite of applications for instant messaging, e-mail and photos that complement Windows Live on the Web) and Live Search on a majority of its new consumer and small-business PCs globally.
No word on how much money changed hands, but bear in mind that Dell is paying to put Windows on their PCs so with this deal they are merely getting a discount for also preloading Live Essentials and Live Search. I am sure Microsoft’s lawyers are making sure it is a separate accounting entry however.
Also announced was the Verizon mobile search deal leaked yesterday:
Under a new five-year relationship that covers mobile search and advertising, Verizon subscribers in the U.S. will be able to use Live Search to search for local business and shopping information; access maps and directions; perform general Internet searches; and find ring tones, games, wallpaper and other online mobile products and services.
More succinctly, Microsoft’s Live Search will become the preferred Web search on Verizon mobiles.
Microsoft announced today that starting in 2009 all Hewlett-Packard consumer Windows PCs distributed in the USA and Canada will be preloaded with Live Search as the default Web search engine in Internet Explorer and with a custom Live Search enabled toolbar featuring their Silverlight technology. HP had previously been signed up with Yahoo.
Danny Sullivan has a nice table of PC OEMs, their US market share, and the search engine they have signed up with and adding HP clearly is a leg up for Microsoft since HP is a strong number 2 (24%) to Dell (31%) who signed with Google in 2006. Before this HP deal, Microsoft only had Lenovo whose US share was minimal.
The question, of course, is how many users actually stick with the OEM presets for IE or change them or switch to Firefox (which defaults to Google). All of the search engines track the sourcing from toolbars and preloads (use one of them for a search query and check the parameters on the URL) so they have a good idea on traffic and ROI at least after one of these deals is started, but Microsoft undoubtedly has more than ROI on their mind.
First Microsoft has to grow beyond their single digit Web search share if their advertising aspirations are to be realized and this is one way of doing that. Second, a Silverlight toolbar means a Silverlight preload which Microsoft had yet to ante up for with the OEMs and that’s critical if they expect to get their Adobe Flash killer off the ground. There’s been no insight into what sort of bidding went on for the HP eyeballs, but there are lots of reasons why Microsoft would not want to be outbid.
Back in March, Microsoft submitted a novel device to the FCC which would utilize the unused “white spaces” in the US TV spectrum (which vary from city to city) for portable personal digital communications. Last week, the FCC’s assessment came in and it wasn’t a pretty sight because the prototype failed to correctly detect when frequencies were in use and would thereby cause interference. This week, more details came out it and it was revealed that Microsoft’s prototype was defective: