Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?

Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?

Summary: The industry statisticians are prepping their year-end totals. But the introduction of Apple's iPad brings some ambiguity into the previously finely-drawn categories. Where do they put the iPad: Mobile PC or mobile computing device?


The industry statisticians are prepping their year-end totals. But the introduction of Apple's iPad brings some ambiguity into the previously finely-drawn categories. Where do they put the iPad: Mobile PC or mobile computing device?

The analyst company DisplaySearch puts the iPad in the PC category with its Monday release of the Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report. With this calculation, Apple now has a Number 3 position worldwide in the category and ranks Number 1 in North America.

DisplaySearch calls this the "iPad Effect." Without the iPad, Apple’s category share would be 4.8 percent, giving it a worldwide 8th place ranking, it said.

Whether one counts the iPad in the mobile PC mix or not, these rankings are great for Apple. It's difficult to budge shares of the worldwide PC market, and with the refresh cycle happening in the enterprise we would expect Apple's share to be toward the bottom of the list. Still, almost 5 percent of mobile computers sold in the third quarter were Mac OS X models.

HP is in first place with an 17.3 percent market share, edging out Acer with a 16.5 percent share.

DisplaySearch analysts questioned the acceptance of the iPad in Asian segments, such as Japan and China.

“A lack of competitive tablet PC products from other brands continues to drive Apple’s market share in the mobile PC segment. As the iPad continues its worldwide rollout, one developed region where the acceptance of the iPad has been weak is Japan, however. Questions of local language content and language-specific apps have slowed acceptance in this tech savvy region,” noted Chris Connery, Vice President of Large Format Displays at DisplaySearch. “As other players come to market with tablet PCs it will be interesting to see if they can move beyond the Western-centric nature of Apple’s product and develop an infrastructure to support local needs, especially with the growth of consumer spending in China on personal computing devices.”

However, I note the results for notebooks and for the Asian markets provided by Apple for the September quarter (for Apple it's the fiscal Q4).

We experienced strong double-digit growth in both Mac desktop and portable categories led by very strong sales of iMac which was updated in July and the continued popularity of the MacBook Pro and MacBook. Mac growth was strong in each of our geographic segments, led by Asia-Pacific at 56 percent year-over-year and Japan at 49 percent.

Whether or not the Asian market is satisfied by the iPad, North American enterprise adoption is only ramping up. The results of quals are winding up now and the actual purchases will be coming in the next calendar year, perhaps bringing further growth in the quarter after the holiday sales.

Apple is bringing on SMB and enterprise sales forces. In the September quarter analyst call, Tim Cook said that he had "never seen an adoption like this in my life in enterprise."

The iPad in business only starting to take off.

Should iPads be counted as mobile PCs? It's a tough call. Mobility used to be easier: it uses a battery and you can carry it on an airplane. Now, there are many subcategories, each with a different footprint, price range and hardware/software capability.

In addition, there is blurring of the lines between categories. For example, there are the hybrid tablets that can be used as a tablet but also come with an integrated keyboard. At the same time, users can easily add a keyboard to an iPad.

Should the dividing line be the OS? The iPad uses a mobile version of OS X called by Apple iOS. Some tablets and netbooks run ordinary versions of their respective OS. Others use a mobile flavor.

My suggestion is to divide up the mobility market by capability:

Workhorse: A machine that let users easily edit and encode video, or other desktop functions. Both of Apple's notebooks fall in this category.

Netbook/Tablets: Everything else. Small notebook-style machines that support primary computing functions.

Topics: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • Toy

    Right there with Legos and Fisher Price.
    • Which is why Fortune 500

      Companies are buying them in droves. Of course they got where they are by spending up big on toys, or not.
    • I somewhat concur, but...

      @dunraven the power of the iPad is the fact that since it is a very lightweight system (in terms of size and power consumption), it's able to do a lot for a $500 device. When you look at similarly-priced competing devices (Galaxy Tab is too small, Windows 7 devices are underpowered anywhere close to the same price point), the iPad looks really attractive. Even smaller, less-expensive Android-powered devices come up short against the iPad when it comes down to it (you can look at this site and others for reviews).

      So while the iPad may still be in it's "Toy" phase, it's becoming more and more useful to more and more people every single day.
    • AGREED!


      At least my wife thinks so, but she says that about every electronic gadget I buy including my computer and laptop. I know I occasionally use them for actual work related activities, but they are all fun toys :)
  • RE: Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?

    It doesn't really matter. Perhaps the age of the primary interface is the metric. So desktops are fixed OS, laptops are fixed OS with mobile features, Phones are phone OS with apps on top, iPads are Mobile OS with apps on top, etc...

    Frankly, aside from want to score keep for bragging rights, what's the point?
  • Who cares?

    I've noticed that it isn't enough for Apple zealots to like their Apple products, it is imperative that their Apple product be compared to other devices. Does Apple being first, fourth, or eighth make any difference in the usefulness of your product?

    Be happy with what you have and let others be happy with what they have. Your immaturity gets tiring.
    • Actually no....

      What often brings me to respond is well people like yourself. Some of your claims or the claims of similar folk are often like the one above "Toy" for instance. Now I don't mind if you or the person above thinks of the iPad as a Toy and hence nor for him/her.. But he/she did not specify that to him/her it was a toy he/she just stated it to be a toy. Then there was your famous rant about the iPhone when it first came out. You kept saying it wasn't even an actual smart phone. Now to you and your needs/wants it very well might not have made the muster as an actual smart phone OK I get that but to say that the iPhone even the original was NOT a smart phone was well foolish and wrong cause to many it was. It's not that you don't have the right to your opinion but your or the posters above does not make it fact for anyone but you. All you need do is phrase your responses better but then that would not be nearly as much fun and way to reasonable:P

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Oh, it's a toy, alright...

        @James Quinn

        Get real. Any competent tech who considers the iPad to be powerful enough to be considered a PC is insane.

        It's's a fun toy, and it has its uses, but it's a toy, nonetheless. The iPad simply wasn't designed to handle serious business applications.

        Look, I like the iPad, but I'm not delusional enough to believe that its anything more than a content-consumption device. Sure, it has lots of lightweight apps that let you do lots of lightweight tasks, but it simply isn't in the same performance class as a PC.

        Stop trying to make this thing something that it isn't. You want a PC-class device; buy a laptop.
      • One last time .. the iPad is not a toy.


        "Toys" can not be used for the following tasks. From a recent article from

        "...While some hospitals are eying the iPad as a way of going paperless with patient records, Georgetown University is already putting them directly in the operating room and into the hands of its surgeons. Offering real-time access to records and images of patients while inside the operating room, iPads have become "as essential as a scalpel" for surgeons while eliminating guesswork for those taking care of multiple patients each day."

        In your eyes, perhaps Trickytom3, the iPad is a toy. But that view is increasingly becoming a singular insight into the reality of the situation.
      • RE: Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?

        @trickytom3 Look who's returned, the resident village idiot, Trickytom3! Gee, can't take the truth can you?

        I suppose being the all-powerful CIO at a one-room school affords you the luxury to be the expert on the iPad, since you probably have never used one.
      • RE: Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?

        @James Quinn

        In the end Jim, you should just use one for a bit. I'm pretty sure it's a toy. I can't run my web apps on it because it doesn't do Flash and it's HTML 5 is broken (no autoplay). The WiFi was horrible, slowing for no apparent reason and dropping out and after we finished testing it, I really couldn't think of a reason I wanted to carry this brick around. I'm also unconvinced about games - most of the games I enjoy let me see the screen without having to view it through my hand.

        Now the Kinect I got last night is used as a toy, but it certainly has a lot more potential than the iPad.

        Oh and being a toy doesn't stop you doing some work on it, but it's still a toy and an expensive one at that.
      • @trickytom: I totally agree

        [i]Any competent tech who considers the iPad to be powerful enough to be considered a PC is insane.[/i]

        I really like my iPhone but it isn't a PC nor does it replace a PC. An iPad is nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch and anyone who says that it replaces a PC is just an idiot. Even more hilarious is that they ignore the fact that you need a PC in order to use an iPad!!!
      • RE: Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?

        @trickytom (number 3, since I assume your other accounts are banned)<br>Being that your previous posts make it clear that you are not a competent tech, You are not really in a position to speak.<br>As to handling "serious business applications" who says. That would all depend on the application, now wouldn't it. Some VERY serious businesses have applications for iPad form-factors that do not require heavy horsepower. As you claiming that that makes them not serious? Are you that dense?<br>Please explain how this device is NOT a serious business appliance, but the dumb terminals UPS drivers use are. Please explain why iPads are not, but the x386 luggables from Compaq may years ago were.


        You're actually going to claim that not having Flash makes it a toy? You're kidding right?!? In what way is Flash the metric for business utilization?
    • RE: Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?

      Hey,NZ. I'm sure the Apple Zealots are just fine with granting other non Apple product users their happiness .. especially at this time of the year when holiday good cheer fills the frigid northern climes.

      I suspect any over zealous statements that you have encountered recently stem from a shared history of having been told market share statistics were the equivalent of platform usefulness or relevancy. Now that Apple market share statistics indicate a growing adoption of their "beloved" platform, they are being told that market share doesn't matter anymore or that's it no big deal.

      Personally, I think I would just cut those zealots some slack on this issue. "Tis the season for good cheer after all".
    • your immaturity gets tiring

      @Zealot ((( "I've noticed that it isn't enough for Apple zealots to like their Apple products, it is imperative that their Apple product be compared to other devices." )))<br><br>I've noticed that you do the <b>exact</b> same thing. In a recent Zdnet article which mentioned the iPad, you chimed in that "Kinect is a bigger hit than iPad. For all of you wooing over iPad's success and how that proves it can't be overhyped, suck on this..."<br><br><a href=";content" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href=";content" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">;content</a></a><br><br>Cue the double standards.
      • Yup, and it served its purpose beautifully

        It annoyed the crap out of the Apple zealots who can't stand to have their own logic shoved back in their faces. Did you see the responses to my post? :)
      • Funny how that works, huh NonZ...


        when you pull the same sh1t the apple fanboy idiots do, then all of the sudden it's not cool, and you're "immature"
      • RE: Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?


        Glad to see you're admitting to posting items merely to annoy others.

      • What would Buddha say (WWBS) if he...

        met up with nonzealot?

        Seriously, anyone with the moniker "buddhistMonkey" should be able to come up with an answer.
    • RE: Should the iPad count as a mobile PC?


      Completely agree. It doesn't matter to me, and you can bet it doesn't matter to Apple as long as this "thing" continues to get rave reviews, sell in the millions, and make a nice profit.