vacancies advertise contact news tip The Vault
It's EPIC GIVEAWAY TIME! NEW PRIZE EVERYDAY! [x]
facebook rss twitter

Canalys: PC market up 7%, but that includes tablets

by Scott Bicheno on 28 April 2011, 10:53

Tags: Canalys

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa5qk

Add to My Vault: x

PC gone mad

As one of the smaller market researchers, Canalys tries to do things a bit differently; proudly announcing it was ‘the first analyst company to include pads within its PC market results.'

By this it means tablets, of course, and today Canalys published its figures for Q1 worldwide PC shipments. They revealed year-on-year growth of seven percent, which represented an. increase of 5,770,630 units. The Canalys estimate for tablets shipped last quarter was 6.4 million units, so without tablets, PC growth would have been negative, which is consistent with the findings of larger researchers.

"Taking into consideration the iPad's ‘halo effect' on the company's other products, Apple has grown considerably in most markets worldwide," said Canalys analyst Tim Coulling. "As the iPad 2 and its competitors continue to roll out, we expect pad sales to propel PC market growth for the rest of the year."

The Canalys table is below and, as you can see, nearly all the growth comes from Apple. The analysis states that 6.4 million tablets were shipped in Q1, with 74 percent of those being iPads, which comes to 4.736 million. Apple itself declared Q1 iPad sales of 4.69. The total increase in Apple PC shipments was 5.518 million, so the halo effect on Macs, if indeed that was the main cause of Mac growth (which is debatable), amounts to 782,000 units, which is quite a lot.

 

 

There are several reasons why we think Canalys is mistaken in putting tablets in the PC category. Firstly, this distorts the PC figures. Canalys dedicated a lot of its analysis to looking at the tablet market in isolation, thus defeating the object of bundling it into the PC category. It also remains likely that the channels for the two types of device will remain quite disitinct from each other.

PCs existed for decades before tablets came along and are generally considered to be quite a different proposition to PCs. Canalys points to a recent Western European consumer survey as evidence that, because people predominantly use tablets for web-browsing and email, they are more like PCs than media players or e-readers.

That may well be the case, but it's also true of smartphones, and Canalys is presumably not contemplating conflating the smartphone and PC markets. To say a tablet is not an e-reader and so is therefore a PC is a false dichotomy.

"This broad usage pattern reinforces the pad's role as a general-purpose computing device, and much more than just a consumption device," said Coulling. "The pad represents a real threat to PC and consumer electronics vendors, as it is capable of replacing devices in a range of other categories."

We agree with all of this, but it further reinforces our belief (and Steve Jobs', for that matter) that tablets are a separate and distinct category of their own. They have predominantly smartphone components and smartphone operating systems, but they're clearly not just big phones. Neither are they PCs, however, and the very fact that tablets are so disruptive to the technology market demands they be measured and analysed as a category to themselves.

 



HEXUS Forums :: 5 Comments

Login with Forum Account

Don't have an account? Register today!
Completely agree. A tablet is more a large smartphone without the phone than a PC/laptop.
Of course, when Windows ports to Arm in the next iteration that could actually be game changing. And there are tablet devices that blur the lines already, like ASUS' Transformer and Slider, which are marketed as productivity devices and laptop replacements rather than large MIDs. Plus there are a few 10"ish x86 Windows tablets available that really have to be considered as PCs, and a lot of people have bought tablets as a replacement for a netbook, and we'd definitely class netbooks as PCs. So I think there's a certain amount of blur there and it'll be a couple of years before we can really decide whether tablets should be classed on their own or if they're really low end PCs. At the minute, however, I'm happy to see analysis looking at it both ways: their effect on the PC market and their growth as a category in their own right.

And just in typing that, it's also occurred to me that there's been no Arm tablets announced (as far as I'm aware) that make use of Arm ports of desktop Linux. Given that the hardware is mature and powerful enough to give a low-power PC experience, I'm amazed no-one's tried to bridge the gap with a mobile device + desktop OS combination. Perhaps linux is considered too niche to bother with: but I'd be willing to put money down that when Windows finally moves to Arm we'll see plenty of ASUS Transformer-type devices running it ;)
They're calling tablets “pads”.

Not much point worrying about what else they have to say :)
scaryjim
Of course, when Windows ports to Arm in the next iteration that could actually be game changing. And there are tablet devices that blur the lines already, like ASUS' Transformer and Slider, which are marketed as productivity devices and laptop replacements rather than large MIDs. Plus there are a few 10"ish x86 Windows tablets available that really have to be considered as PCs, and a lot of people have bought tablets as a replacement for a netbook, and we'd definitely class netbooks as PCs. So I think there's a certain amount of blur there and it'll be a couple of years before we can really decide whether tablets should be classed on their own or if they're really low end PCs. At the minute, however, I'm happy to see analysis looking at it both ways: their effect on the PC market and their growth as a category in their own right.

And just in typing that, it's also occurred to me that there's been no Arm tablets announced (as far as I'm aware) that make use of Arm ports of desktop Linux. Given that the hardware is mature and powerful enough to give a low-power PC experience, I'm amazed no-one's tried to bridge the gap with a mobile device + desktop OS combination. Perhaps linux is considered too niche to bother with: but I'd be willing to put money down that when Windows finally moves to Arm we'll see plenty of ASUS Transformer-type devices running it ;)

All good points and there are clearly aspects of tablets that have more in common with PCs than smartphones. But there are also plenty of examples of the converse, which is why I think a distinct category is necessary.

It will be interesting to see what people make of these hybrid devices with keyboards. Will they be the ideal compromise or the worst of both worlds?
I can't comment specifically on hybrid tablets, but I've just bought a USB host equipped Android tablet and plugged a keyboard into it. It's completely changed my opinion of Android as an OS - and today's release of Google Docs for Android can only help to improve Android's position as a viable productivity OS. Before today I'd always assumed I'd need a Windows laptop as well as an Android tablet to get a computing experience I'd be happy with, but being able to type on my Android tab from a proper keyboard means I can forum, blog, word-process - probably 90% of everything I'd want to do on a computer. Personally I'm finding that an Android tab with a keyboard is definitely on the better side of both worlds…