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August 23, 2010

Is the iPad a PC or not?

Posted by David Hunter at 11:01 AM ET.

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.

Filed under Apple, Coopetition, Dell, HP, Hardware, Microsoft, New Form Factors, iPad

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