Sunday, January 15, 2012

PC vs Tablet Shipments: Fun With Data

So, I got into a debate with my brother during one of our Furlo Bros podcasts over whether or not tablets (ie. the iPad) should be counted as a PC or not. What re-kindled the whole debate was Canalys' decision to include the iPad in Apple's PC shipment numbers. Which brought about the headline grabbing conclusion that Apple would surpass HP as the leading PC vender in 2012.

Matthew thinks the iPad should be counted. I do not.

With the latest Gartner PC shipment report, I decided to do some digging myself to see what the data shows. Gartner makes it fairly easy to look up each quarterly report and grab the data in semi-copy-and-paste friendly data tables. See below for all the links**. Here's what I found:

A couple notable points:
  • HP is the current WW leader with 16% share of the market. Congrats team!
  • HP also has some vicious Q4 swings in shipments. I bet the supplies chain loves it (not).
  • I always thought Dell posed more of a threat, they do in the US, but not really on the world stage.
  • Instead, Lenovo is on a huge growth trajectory! It looks like Lenovo will actually pass HP in either Q3 or Q4 of 2012.
Interesting. Now let's layer tablet shipment figures from IDC to see how they compare:

And I thought Lenovo was growing fast! That's unbelievable growth. But if the iPad, which is 60% of those tablet numbers, is indeed a PC, I would expect to see some sort of decline. I don't really. I can hear Matthew now telling me that it's the same as "buying a secondary PC". Really? That's what netbooks were supposed to be, and their growth numbers looked nothing like this. Instead, these look more like smart phone growth numbers, which are decided NOT PCs.

I firmly believe that tablets and PCs are going to easily co-exist. Instead people are going to give something else up (an iPod Touch perhaps...). The current trends agree.

Now, one of the things I like the Mythbusters is they wouldn't stop here. They would say, "OK. The myth of iPads equalling PCs is BUSTED. But let's assume they are. What would that look like?"

Doing some quick math, I agree with Canalys' conclusion. In Q4 HP shipped 14.7M PC's. That's a lot. In Q3 Apple shipped 2.3M Macs in the US and 11.1M iPads WW (13.4M total). With all the talk of huge iPad estimates for Q4 (at least 20M iPads), it's very feasible that Apple beats HP in Q4 and will continue to do so in 2012. Again, that's IF you count tablets as PCs.

Finally, I took a bigger step back and looked at total PCs vs Tablets:

Clearly tablets are growing like crazy, but they're still a very small piece of the overall pie. It'll still be about 3 years before tablets over-take PCs. (Which is genuinely a long time in the tech space)

Will there ever be a time when tablet's start replacing PCs? Probably. I think there will be something of a tipping point. Once cloud storage and productivity apps mature more, you will then see people ditching their PCs completely for tablets. That isn't happening yet, and it still doesn't change the fundamental premise that iPads are PCs, in the same way that microwaves are not ovens.

** Data sources (Yeah, I know...):

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