The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

Summary: It's all to do with having an open application environment.

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According to IT research firm Canalys "Apple is on track to become leading global PC vendor." How did Canalys come to this link-baiting conclusion? By reclassifying the iPad as a PC.

Ummm ... but is the iPad really a PC? Of course it's not.

Patrick Moorhead, former AMD VP and now president of Moor Insights & Strategy, offers up a list of the nine characteristics that define a PC, and a further five conditions that need to be met. By following these simple rules you see why a Dell Vostro 260 is a PC, and why an iPad or a Samsung Smartfridge or the dashboard of a BMW 1 series isn't a PC.

One of Moorhead's conditions for a PC that I found interesting was this one:

  • Open application environment where users can load, side-load without having to jail-break

In other words, a test of whether you new toy is actually a PC or not is where do your applications come from. If you can installed them from a variety of media (CD/DVD/digital download) from any place, then it's a PC. If they all have to come from the one place, that's not a PC you've got there.

Based on this condition, the iPad is not a PC.

But by this definition, Windows 8 tablets aren't PCs either. Why? Because it seems that the classic desktop won't be part of Windows 8 ARM, and that means it will only run Metro apps, and the only source of Metro apps will be Microsoft's app store.

In other words, it's a closed application environment.

Note: It's not just the fact that it will have a closed application environment that mean that Windows 8 tablets aren't PCs, but to me it's the most significant.

Why do I make this point about Windows 8 tablets? Because it's important that potential buyers realize that a Windows tablet aren't PC replacement devices. Sure, you can both consume and create content on tablets (whether they be powered by iOS, Windows or Android), but they're not PCs. Don't think you can swipe your PC into the nearest trashcan (or recycling center) and replace it with tablet. That's just not going to happen.

I agree with Moorhead, it's time to stop the madness. If tablets are classed as PCs then why not smartphones? Or smartfridges? Or digital watches?

Stop the madness!

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Topics: iPad, Hardware, Mobility, Processors

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49 comments
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  • True, iPad is NOT a PC

    However, a Windows 8 tablet arguably is a PC.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

      @Tim Acheson Did you even read the article? No.

      Does that make your comment pointless? Yes.
      jeremychappell
      • And iPad is 'post-PC' device

        @jeremychappell:

        At the same time, aside of from where applications come, netbooks might be less PC than iPad (in price, too), yet Gartner/Dataquest and IDC consider these barely useful devices -- which a lot slower in responsiveness comparing to iPad in simple applications and can not really run any real PC-class applications -- as PCs.

        So both Canalys and Garnter/Dataquest/IDC are wrong.
        dderss
    • True

      @Tim Acheson
      The x86 Windows 8 tablets are unarguably PCs, at least according to the best information we have today.
      toddybottom
      • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

        @toddybottom My x64 Samsung Win8 slate is DEFINITELY still a PC.

        We still don't know is MS will or won't enable the traditional desktop on ARM tablets, so stating that Win8 ARM slates, tablets, transformable laptops, laptops and servers aren't PCs is just ... premature at best.
        bitcrazed
    • Perhaps we need new terminology for Windows capable tablets...

      and perhaps we can refer to them as WinTablets, or TabletPCs.

      A better name: proTablets, for professional tablets, or "productivity" tablets. As we all know, the iPads and Android tablets cannot be used for "professional" work, or for productivity.
      adornoe
    • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

      @Tim Acheson <br><br>So if I take my ACER convertible tablet/netbook running Win 7 (must be a PC right?) and install the Win 8 beta in Feb, does it stop being a PC?<br><br>So rotating the screen causes multiple personality disorder?<br><br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">

      Oh and it's certainly powerful enough to run Office and multiple apps and has been used as a business computer for some months, certainly much more useful than an iPad - higher res and a real keyboard.
      tonymcs@...
  • Who cares?

    What does it matter to anyone other than to those who jerk off to marketshare figures? That seems to be the only reason why anyone wants to categorize (or not categorize) the iPad as a PC.

    And even with these definitions, my iPad is a PC:
    - display greater than 5": yes
    - physical keyboard: yes (I have a bluetooth keyboard)
    - physical mouse or trackpad: yes (the whole screen is a trackpad)
    - light enough to be picked up by an average age adult: yes
    - open application environment where users can load, side-load without having to jail-break: while I totally disagree with the requirement that a PC must be able to side-load applications, developers are able to side load applications without jailbreaking (I believe this is true)
    toddybottom
    • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

      @toddybottom I don't agree with your conclusion, but you are correct developers can load their applications onto their own iPads.

      I just don't think that this "not a PC" is an issue for most people (once they actually think about it).
      jeremychappell
      • I think we agree with each other on that point

        @jeremychappell
        "I just don't think that this "not a PC" is an issue for most people (once they actually think about it)."

        Absolutely right. The only people who care are those who want to show that Apple has a higher (or lower) marketshare in whatever market they define as important. It is all so ridiculous and artificial.
        toddybottom
    • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

      @toddybottom
      The fact you have a separate physical keyboard, makes your setup a two-piece configuration--CPU/display and keyboard. (Sounds very close to a traditional notebook or desktop.)
      TsarNikky
      • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

        @TsarNikky

        Part of the "common definition" of a PC requires that the device can be expanded using third party hardware peripherals and/or thru software applications.<br><br>In all the points toddybottom and jeremychappell highlighted, the iPad could be classified as a PC. As far as having third party software apps side loaded onto the iPad without jailbreaking the device, I can't recall seeing an iPad specific iOS app sold outside the Apple App Store environment for an unjailbroken iPad.

        I suspect that if you are an iPad App developer, a person could side-load an app by first enabling the iPad "developer" mode. (I did this on my first gen iPad in order to try out the multi-touch gestures now available in the iOS 5 release.)

        But that would be beyond the ability of the average iPad consumer. (Besides, not to many persons would pay the additional 100 dollars to become an Apple iOS developer.)

        Still, side loading apps is a possibility without the requirement to jailbreak the iPad first.
        kenosha77a
  • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

    Okay, I've argued this similarly myself (I said you can't use the device to program the device - which is VERY similar).

    But does that matter?

    Here's the thing, there is an upside to not being a PC - no malware.

    Is there a downside? Sure, you can't create apps for it without extra stuff. But most users wouldn't have a clue how to build apps anyway (C++? C#? Objective-C? And that's the EASY part - learning the Frameworks, that's the hard part).

    So does it even matter, for most users?
    jeremychappell
    • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

      @jeremychappell If you think there's no malware for iOS/'droid, you just aren't paying attention. Or are you siding with SJVN, stating that Win8 isnt a PC and therefore asserting that Win8 will have no malware?

      All computing devices of any stature have vulns and have/WiLL have malware.
      bitcrazed
      • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

        @bitcrazed

        Lmao. Android is *riddled* with malware.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Agree completely

        @bitcrazed
        One day the virus in your refrigerator won't be growing in that bowl in the back corner, it will be growing in the ICB that controls the temperature and orders more milk for you whenever you run low!
        use_what_works_4_U
  • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

    People will define the categories how they want to define them. During one of Apple's press conferences they declared themselves as having the most "mobile devices" because of how they chose to define mobile devices. They were, of course, including everything except their desktop computers. Every laptop, iPod, iPad, and iPhone went into the list while Nokia's cellphones (dumbphones) didn't make the list as far as Apple was concerned. I guess it didn't make their qualification of "device".

    That said, the definition of "PC" in this article is as arbitrary as the one used by Canalys.
    Ididar
  • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

    "Don???t think you can swipe your PC into the nearest trashcan (or recycling center) and replace it with tablet. That???s just not going to happen."

    This line just makes too much sense.



    Now I'll sit patiently, and wait for the Mobile News blog on *why* you should be throwing your PC away.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Uhhh.....

      @Cylon Centurion
      It's broken
      It burned up
      It died and I bought a new one

      /S

      chuckle :D
      rhonin
      • RE: The iPad is not a PC, and neither are Windows 8 tablets

        @rhonin ...or a new version of Windows.
        radleym