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’s Steve Ballmer and Robbie Bach delivered the keynote last night at the 2010 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas and it was the usual mixture of self-congratulatory boosterism and product and technology demos. Here is my list of highlights:
After a report on how well Windows 7 is selling, there were the PC demos including a prototype Hewlett-Packard slate PC that the technical press was pining for.
It looks like a touch enabled netbook to me and while it may have a niche, I suspect I would be screaming for a keyboard (or at least a stylus) in under a minute of usage. Perhaps more interesting were the ultrathin Lenovo A300 laptop with a 21.5" screen and the Sony VAIO home entertainment notebook with a 24" screen. How big does a laptop have to get before it becomes a single element desktop?
HP is making Bing the default Web search engine and MSN the default home page on all their PCs in 42 countries.
Ballmer put the usual lipstick on this pig and Robbie Bach appeared later to flog upcoming games (including another lucrative Halo version) and tout Project Natal, the motion sensing technology that will appear later this year to replace the standard controllers for some games.
Bach also announced Mediaroom 2.0, the latest version of Microsoft’s IPTV offering for service providers which now supports PCs and smartphoes as well as set top boxes and Xbox consoles for TV viewing.
Microsoft really did not have much of its own to show again this year. I am almost beginning to miss the goofy Bill Gates future technology skits.
Microsoft was touting a deal with personal computer giant Hewlett-Packard for Black Friday shopping this holiday weekend that offered shoppers 40% discounts if they went through Microsoft’s incentive shopping service, Live Search cashback. Unfortunately, Microsoft was not prepared for the load on their servers:
First, Microsoft’s Live Search Cashback site was down for a good part of the day, preventing many online shoppers from taking advantage of the Black Friday cashback promotions from HP and others. Now, some of the people who did get through to the site are reporting that they received a mere 3 percent cashback from their HP purchases, not the promised 40 percent.
The 3% instead of 40% is fixable with a lot of elbow grease from Microsoft and HP employees and yes, Web site overloads from holiday shopping frenzy aren’t uncommon, but this is certainly a PR black eye for Live Search. Even worse,it is extraneous to Live Search’s mission as a Web Search alternative to Google and Yahoo.
From a bean counter perspective, Microsoft likely is subsidizing Live Search cashback so the glitches may have actually saved money, but if the folks at HP wisely put a reimbursement clause in the contract it may get very expensive for Microsoft. As for HP, their online store just missed one of the biggest shopping days of the year so I am sure they are rather grumpy. Next year, I bet the "doorbuster specials" won’t be Live Search cashback exclusive.
Linda Buquet at the 5 Star Affiliate Programs Blog notices a part of the Microsoft Financial Analyst Day presentations which reveals that the MSN browser toolbar about to be installed on all Hewlett-Packard consumer PCs will try to entice Google searchers over to Microsoft’s own Live Search cashback deals. From Satya Nadella’s portion of Steve Ballmer’s presentation:
So the last thing I wanted to show you is one of the challenges, of course, we have, given our share position, is how do we really get more people to know about Live Search and get the taste for some of the value, like, in particular, the cashback value? So the place where we are innovating is in the toolbar. We have recently done a distribution deal for our toolbar with Hewlett-Packard. So this is the toolbar that Hewlett-Packard will carry with some customizations of their own. It’s the MSN toolbar.
And so let’s say I’m on Google and I type in Xbox. I can go ahead and search for Xbox, and automatically the toolbar detects that you’re searching for Xbox on Google and a Gleam view that there is a cashback on Live Search. And so I can go ahead and at this point click on that Gleam and it’ll take you to Live Search, or it’s supposed to take you to Live Search. Oh, it is on Live Search. See, I didn’t even notice the transfer. So it’s so seamless that now you’re on Live Search. You can get the cashback for a particular Xbox that you want to buy. So that’s just an experiment on how we get the word out, get more users trying Live Search, and getting the value of things like Live Search cashback.
Buquet’s beef is that affiliate marketers who are advertising on Google and always trying to get their sites to rank higher in the search results are going to be cut out of their commissions if searchers buy via Live Search cashback. My concern is that this seems like the most annoying sort of crapware bloat with privacy concerns to boot.
Admittedly, a “gleam” (which is a lit up marker on the toolbar) is probably the least offensive way to do this (compared to pop-ups, say), but it is yet one more piece of dancing baloney that slows down the browser. As for Microsoft getting a complete copy of your Google searching history (and what else?), that ought to be grist for the privacy advocates’ mills. Yet another thing to uninstall if you buy an HP machine, I guess, and to be wary of installing otherwise.