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

It's all to do with having an open application environment.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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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