Analyst shows Apple benefiting from “iPad effect”

Darren Allan

December 7, 2010

Analyst firm DisplaySearch has compiled its latest Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report, with some interesting results.

The juiciest statistic being that Apple has actually notched up a 12.4% share of global mobile PC shipments in the third quarter of this year, with that figure driven by its iPad tablet (almost two-thirds of those shipments were iPads).

The “iPad effect”, as DisplaySearch dubs it, has seen Apple move up to third position in the world, only behind HP and Acer (and ahead of Dell in fourth place). In North America, however, Apple has actually managed to capture the number one spot for mobile computing.

Despite this success, Hidetoshi Himuro, Director of IT Market Research at DisplaySearch, cautioned: “On a global scale, the adoption of iPad is not without its challenges. Localized content in non-English speaking regions is sparse, and iPad owners must have a PC for downloading content from iTunes. As a result, penetration in developing regions will be slow.”

Indeed, 95% of iPad shipments were to developed regions, and primarily North America, hence Apple’s huge leap up the table in that territory.

Incidentally, at the top of the worldwide rankings, HP’s market share is 17.3%, and Acer is very close behind on 16.5%. The top five mobile PC brands account for two-thirds of the entire mobile computing market, indicating the growing strength of big brand names.


Comments in chronological order (15 comments)

  1. PhilA says:

    If someone is counting iPads as part of “Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment”, then you might as well put the iPod Touch in that league as well.

    Since the iPad isn’t really a computer, it’s just a glorified media player, browser and information consumption device - it’s not really useful for creating information, but great for reading information.

    It is POSSIBLE to make content on the iPad, but it’s not exactly it’s primary purpose - it really is designed as a consumption device (no creation device would remove half of the screen to have an the only method of input as an on-screen keyboard).

    If you ignore them as they’re not really a “PC”, then Apple sink back down to FAR down the list…

  2. Darren Allan says:

    A fair point… in fact, if the iPad was excluded, Apple would rank 8th globally.

  3. Martin Hill says:

    The iPad is indeed a Personal Computer. Have a look in any dictionary and you will find a personal computer (PC) is defined as any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and price make it useful for individuals in contrast to terminals running off a mainframe or mini computer.

    Microsoft classes the iPad as a PC as Steve Balmer is on record as stating. All analysts considers tablet PCs to be Personal Computers and everyone considers tablet PCs like the HP Slate to be competitors in the same market as the iPad.

    The iPad has a bigger screen than most netbooks which most definitely are classed as PCs and the iPad happily runs powerful word processing, desktop publishing, painting and photo-editing software, spreadsheets, databases and video editing apps in addition to of course email, web browsing and desktop-class games at least on par with the capabilities of netbooks.

    You can connect an iPad to a data projector and do powerpoint-compatible slideshows (using Keynote), and now print wirelessly to a growing number of printers.

    Many commentators have indicated how the iPad has replaced their notebook PC for a majority of tasks and most analysts are on record as stating that the iPad has cannibalised laptops and netbook sales and you can only “cannibalise” something that is of your own kind.

    Some argue that because an iPad needs to be connected to another computer for system updates and some data transfer tasks means it can’t be classed as a PC. However this is splitting hairs as you would then have to discount the millions of PCs that are sold as Point of Sale terminals or factory floor boxes completely dependent on a server to function as well.

    Yes, the iPad is a PC and Apple is indeed now Number 1 in PC retail computer sales in the USA and number 3 in portable computer sales in the world.


  4. PhilA says:

    As the iPod Touch is quite capable of running virtually everything that the iPad can, and can be plugged into a projector as well, as long as the App can use the projector interface (as with the iPad), then by definition the iPod Touch is ALSO a PC.

    You call iPad games “desktop-class”??? Have you ever played a desktop game on a PC? Clearly not if you classify a 1024×768 screen on a 1GHz processor as “desktop-class” unless you live in 1995! Netbooks aren’t designed for games, they’re designed to be low-powered computers that allow you to compute on the move, with a FULL PC!

    Actually, using your definition - my Android phone has an adaptor to plug in a HDMI cable, it has word processing software available on it, it can do painting and photo/video-editing too, plus email, web browsing and other apps, so, my smartphone is ALSO a PC!

    Since I don’t need to plug it into another computer to get updates (it’s not tied to some rubbish like iTunes), so therefore, following YOUR definitions, I carry a more-powerful-than-an-iPad PC in my pocket… and make phone calls on it!

    As for your comparison to the HP Slate - IT RUNS WINDOWS, and not a phone OS - iOS is built for the iPhone & iPod Touch, and putting it on the iPad clearly puts it in that class, especially when you consider that it didn’t multi-task until SEVEN MONTHS after it’s launch (which is comedic).

    If you compare the iPad to netbooks because of the screen size, you’re insane - netbooks run an operating system that allows you to install software (without interaction of another computer), plug in a DVD drive, run multiple applications, change the memory/storage, plug it into a network to share data, print, plug in USB devices, plus MANY other functions, rather than being a “giant iPod Touch”.

    I consider your definition of a PC as very loose and trying to crowbar in the iPad, but it also opens the doors to anything that can do similar, which includes pretty much all Android/BlackBerry/iPhone smartphones (plus others too)!

  5. Martin Hill says:

    The lines are undoubtedly blurry and yes, you could indeed argue that smartphones and iPod touch-size portable devices are the most “personal” of personal computers.

    However, in terms of market segment statistics, screen size is probably the biggest argument against such small devices being grouped in with NetBooks, Tablet PCs, notebooks and desktop computers, whereas the iPad is obviously a similar category of computer.


  6. PhilA says:

    If you’re talking only screen size, then compare the Sony VAIO VGN-P588E, which has an 8″ screen, and the Galaxy Tab, which has a 7″ screen - the Sony is DEFINITELY a PC, and since the Tab is so similar in size, it MUST be counted as well…

    How about the FlipStart PC ( It has a 5.6″ screen (1024×600 resolution), and it runs Windows - now compare the Dell Streak, which has a 5″ inscreen (only slightly smaller), but it’s an Android phone.

    If you’re only looking at the screen size, then you HAVE to go down in size because of the FlipStart, so that makes virtually all phones near 5″ valid.

    Crowbarring in the iPad opens the doors to all sorts of things, and that means that since the Dell Streak isn’t tied to a PC via iTunes, does virtually everying that an iPad can do, and can make phone calls (and sends texts), then it’s GOT to be counted as the smallest PC on the market. :-P

  7. Martin Hill says:

    Heh, as I say the lines start to get blurry with the increasing power of smartphones and other mobile devices.

    However, I would argue that it is not the iPad that is on the edge of the category, but rather the Galaxy Tab and the outlier FlipstartPC.

    The iPad is positively mainstream in comparison and competes for the same dollar of users who are in the market for a Netbook or a NoteBook as many analysts and commentators have noted. This is the purpose of classifications of this sort. Analysts group similar devices that compete for the same dollars together to give a picture of the market as a whole.

    Would potential NetBook or Notebook buyers instead purchase a Galaxy Tab with half the size screen of those Netbooks or NoteBooks? The jury is still out, but probably a lot fewer people. Would they buy a 5″ screen Dell Streak - with a quarter the size screen? I would argue only a small fraction would (as the utter failure of the UMPC category demonstrated).

    To be classed in the same category, the iPad shares many more traits with it’s Tablet PC cousins which analysts make no bones about grouping together when they announced the iPad had captured 95.5% of the tablet PC market. That in itself is pretty firm confirmation that the iPad is a PC is it not?


  8. PhilA says:

    You’re saying that the FlipStart ISN’T a PC? It runs Windows, it is capable of multi-tasking, running Windows software, it has similar resolution to the iPad, but TONS more power, and yet you say it isn’t because the screen is so small?

    I think you’re taking the screen size too strict and ignoring the power of the machine - the FlipStart is FAR more powerful than the iPad, and by definition is a PC, just smaller.

    I’ll tell you what - find a secretary who needs to do word processing and give her an iPad, and only an iPad, then ask her to do her job - she will be able to do BASIC editing, and won’t be able to print, or take her files to other locations without emails, and be restricted to that little screen. In other words, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to do her job!

    Now do the same with a netbook - not as powerful as a desktop or laptop, but she’d have a proper word processor, be able to plug in a USB printer, or connect across the network, download files via email, use USB sticks, etc.

    If you’re stretching the rules of what a PC is by adding in the iPad, which is basically a giant iPod Touch, then you have to include other similar devices.

    Using YOUR rules on screen size, I counted the Tab because the Sony is only a bit smaller - using YOUR rules on screen size, I counted the Streak because it’s almost the same screen size as a FlipStart!

    If you ask people what they use their iPad for, 99% probably use it for browsing, reading books, and consuming media - that doesn’t make a PC, it makes a media device!

    With new TVs you get the ability to browse, play media (streamed or via USB devices), read text - does that make a TV a PC as well? Especially when some now come with keyboards for those purposes!

    My complaint about the iPad is that it is mostly for consumption, not creation, and a PC should be able to do both, otherwise you can include things like games consoles, as they can consume and create tiny bits of content, and in that case Microsoft probably out-sell Apple with the Xbox 360!

    If your rules are that loose that you can include a media device, then by definition you have to include smart phones, consoles, “smart” TVs, and any device that allows anything minor for content creation, but isn’t a stand-alone device and requires another computer to be able to get new software/media!

  9. Martin Hill says:

    @ PhilA
    No, I am not saying the FlipStart isn’t a PC. However, it is obviously far less comparable to a 10″ Netbook or Tablet PC than the iPad and thus shouldn’t be classed in the same category as it would be used for completely different purposes than a computer with a regular-sized screen. In contrast, the iPad is far less of an edge-case, though again I say the lines excluding smaller mobile devices are blurry.

    Using your example, give a secretary a 5″ Dell Streak or 7″ Galaxy Tab or that 5″ Flipstart and I have no doubt she’d find it far more difficult with those tiny screens and even tinier physical or on-screen keyboards than using the iPad which can fit a full-size keyboard on screen or run with the optional Apple Bluetooth keyboard.

    To answer your iPad criticisms, with apps like the Office-compatible Pages, your secretary would be able to do a lot more than basic editing - try decent word processing and page layout. She would also be able to print - ever heard of the Airprint feature of iOS? or one of the innumerable 3rd party apps for doing the same.

    With Dropbox, Mobileme integration or the many 3rd party apps available she would be able to share files over wifi or Bluetooth or email. She would also be able to run spreadsheet apps and show Powerpoint-conpatible slideshows on a big screen or projector.

    Best of all, with incredible ease of use and intuitiveness, no viruses or malware or crud downloaded from who knows where on the Net, she’d prove to be far less of a support burden for her IT staff.

    As far as your attempt to propagate the meme that the iPad is only a media consumption device rather than a content creation device is concerned, I think the many stories that have been published over the last 6 months of writers, painters, musicians, business people and others creating articles, books, works of art and music, live performances and exhibitions, spreadsheets and email well and truly prove that to be a myth.

    One also has to ask if you are saying that most home PCs are actually not PCs after all because they are mostly used for browsing, email and games?!

    Sure the iPad has its own unique usage modes and has in many ways introduced a new way of computing making it the most “personal” of personal computers - but it has well and truly proved to be able to do many of the same things as, and be competing in the same market with NetBooks, other Tablet PCs and NoteBooks and as such should also be included when comparing sales in that very same category.


  10. PhilA says:

    I was thinking about this on the way to work this morning:
    Give an iPad to a person who has no other computer - what can it do? Browse and email, NOTHING else - you can’t install apps (without a computer with iTune), you can’t install media (without a computer with iTune), you can’t do much with it at all…

    Doesn’t that (by definition) make it either a terminal, or a slave machine? A PC should be able to be completely stand-alone from ANY other computer to do it’s job - you should be able to install applications, media and anything you want without the need for another PC, but, the iPad (by it’s design) is 100% reliant on another computer to put ANYTHING on it, be it apps, media, or documents.

    If you say that it’s a PC because of it’s functionality, and screen size (a rather odd definition) then you’re opening the doors to any media device that can consume media, browse and small amounts of creation.

    As for screen size, you can buy a 5″ LCD screen for a PC, so if I get one for my Dual Xeon desktop, and use it, by your definition of smaller means “not a PC” then that would make my desktop not a PC by your definition.

  11. PhilA says:


    I’m only pulling in the Tab & Streak as you’re saying that the iPad is definitely a PC, because if it is, then the Tab & Streak definitely count as well…

    I LOVE the way you completely ignored my point about giving an iPad to someone with no other computer involved, because that basically removes it from the class of being a PC!

    I’ve seen someone try to write a document on an iPad - they did the basic work of typing the text, and then had to transfer it to a REAL PC for the final editing - the device is too low powered to have any decent size document, and if you try to add an image it just doesn’t work.

    Yes, there are lots of lovely apps for the iPad, but the problem is that it relies on other computers, you can’t do ANYTHING on it without connecting to a REAL PC first, and even then it’s still hellishly limited compared to even a netbook, which are half the price, and have greater power!

    Seriously, you used the definition initally that “any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and price make it useful for individuals in contrast to terminals running off a mainframe or mini computer”, if you consider what you’re limited to without another computer, it might as well be a terminal - web browsing and simple email work is all it’s capable of!
    Not to mention that “price make it useful for individuals”, since the iPad is £500, that hardly makes it useful for individuals, considering that you HAVE to buy another computer to use along with, so you’re minimum spending about £1,000 for a computer and an iPad… how exacly is that price useful for individuals?

    You CANNOT use one without a real PC, so how does that make it a PC on it’s own? Name me another PC (by MY definitions, not your rather loose ones) that needs another computer to be usable - there are NONE!
    If you use your rather loose definitions, you HAVE to include the Tab, Streak, Xbox 360, PS3, Smart TVs, Google TV, Apple TV, etc - of which you claim none are actually PCs, but using YOUR rules, they all count…

  12. Martin Hill says:

    @ PhilA
    Ah, so now it becomes apparent that you actually don’t know much about the iPad after all.

    For your information, all iOS devices including the iPad have an App Store app and an iTunes App with the ability to download any app, music track, movie, TV show, podcast, etc over the air via wifi or 3G, completely independently from another computer.

    Hardware adapters such as the iPad Camera Connection kit allow the iPad to directly import photos and other media and documents off cameras, SD cards and other devices - again without the intermediation of another computer.

    Of course those 300,000 3rd party apps in the App Store can also download or stream any media, ebook or a myriad of other types of documents and files over the air themselves as well.

    You only need another PC to install system updates and could do that plugged into any computer anywhere. This a dumb terminal does not it make. :-)

    I’m afraid this puts something of a dampener on your arguments.

    I’m not sure why you believe my arguments for the iPad demand the Xbox, PS3, AppleTV etc also be deemed PCs as last time I checked they aren’t general purpose computers with the ability to install or run typical PC software like word processing, spreadsheets, databases, CAD, finance apps etc and don’t have form factors or screen sizes at all similar to a tablet PC, NetBook, NoteBook or desktop PC.

    Anyway, I think I should call it quits now as I prefer to debate topics based on facts, so thanks for the discussion. ciao.


  13. PhilA says:

    They must have added the App Store app into the iPad recently, because we dismissed the iPad for any use apart from simple web demonstrations since it’s launch, and it must have been added with the recent update.

    If that is the case, then for the first year it’s been a terminal, and has only just been upgraded…

    I notice your reference to “screen size” again - my desktop doesn’t have screens built into it, it uses monitors, so I can add a screen from anywhere from 5″ upto 50″ - we regularly plug machines into TVs with VGA inputs (or my laptop into my TV at home via HDMI), and since my Xbox and PS3 also use the same screen, and I have a desktop at home that ONLY uses the TV for a screen - that cut’s out your entire “screen” argument…

    Next let’s look at form factor - PCs have no fixed form factor at all, and if you claim that an Xbox or PS3 doesn’t have a similar form factor to a desktop, then you clearly know NOTHING about desktop computers, so you know NOTHING about PCs at all.

    Since I use a USB keyboard on my Xbox, and a bluetooth on my PS3, that’s for data input - since it’s possible to install Linux on the machines, that actually makes them a perfect PC, it’s got nothing to do with the OS, it’s got to do with what you CAN run on it… try installing a different OS on the iPad :-P

    So, let’s call it quits because I enjoy debates with people who actally know more about PCs than “I have an Apple, so all other PCs must look & work the same as it, everything else isn’t a computer” ;-)

  14. Martin Hill says:

    @ PhilA
    Um, the iPad has had the App Store app and the iTunes Store App installed and integral from the very beginning - following in the footsteps of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Your evaluation and understanding of the iPad has evidently been worse than superficial - it has been deeply flawed and blinkered from the start.

    My reference to screen size and form factor demonstrates that the iPad is bang smack in the middle of the class that includes Tablet PCs, Netbooks and NoteBook PCs. A 5″ tablet as I say is far more of an edge-case in the “blurry” zone. It is also just one of the features that help to demonstrate how much of a PC it is as I have previously mentioned.

    As far as hacking a device to install a different OS - that of course has nothing to do with whether it is a PC or not (you can run Linux on a mainframe but that does not make it a PC), but you can install Android and other Linux kernals on an iPhone with a couple of clicks and OpenIBoot has been demonstrated working on an iPad as well.

    The Xbox and PS3 both fail on the broad definition of being “general purpose” computers as they are both dedicated games boxes and need to be hacked to do standard PC tasks like WP, SS, DB etc.

    Oh dear, I was going to stop responding, but your factual errors keep dragging me back. *sigh*


  15. PhilA says:


    It was you who said:
    don’t have form factors or screen sizes at all similar to a tablet PC, NetBook, NoteBook or desktop PC.

    Note that you said that the Xbox and PS3 “don’t have form factors or scrren sizes similar to desktop PC” (trimmed out the “tablet PC, Netbook, NoteBook” part), and I’ve proved repeatedly that desktop PCs don’t have a specific screen size or form factor, so your statement is completely redundant, and if you want to talk about factual errors, I think that highlights (in bright yellow, with a red underline) that you know nothing about PCs.

    Put it this way, a desktop PC can be anything from a few inches across to being 2-3 feet wide, and tower computers are just as diverse, so saying that the iPad “fits in the middle” is a joke when talking about desktops.

    For it “fitting in the middle”, it cannot be farther from the truth - Netbooks go from 8″ (rarely) to 10″, and ALL are 16×9 screen - laptops generally go from 12-13″ upwards, and I’ve used one with a 20″ screen, and ALL ones on sale now have a 16×9 screen (or wider).

    So, if it “fits in the middle”, then you’re only looking at OLD technology, and nothing which has been sold within the last 5 years!

    The only thing that an iPad fits in the middle of is the Apple range, and only if you take iPod Touch/iPhone in that range as well - it is only similar to netbooks, it has ZERO similarity with anything larger.

    Oh, and installing a new OS onto a computer is NOT a hack - the Xbox, PS3, AppleTV versions of Linux are far from hacks - you only have to format your hard drive and put in a disk (or memory stick), which is basically what you have to do with a normal PC… if that is “a hack”, then your knowledge of PCs seems to extend only to “I have my iPad, it’s a PC”.

    If I’m stating factual errors, then you’re just making things up because of your severe lack of knowledge…

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