The folks at Canlys this morning are doing what analysts are fond of: playing the ‘if’ game. If iPads were included in the same category as computers, Apple might soon overtake HP as the world’s largest PC maker — particularly if the Cupertino, Calif. company launches the iPad 3, anticipated by many to be a 2012 release. Canalys, which does count tablets as PCs, expects Apple to pass HP before mid-2012.
Although a stretch, the scenario would leap frog Apple from its current five percent worldwide share via incredible Mac sales to triple that figure by calculating tablet growth that some expect could hit 130 percent during the holidays. The analyst firm projected earlier this month that Apple had 15 percent of the computer market, just 1 percent behind leader HP… if you count the iPad.
Even if tablets were not counted as PCs, that projection may not be too far off the market. The firm predicts 2011 PC sales will increase 15 percent to 415 million units – more than half of those notebook computers, an area Apple has under lock and key.
Still, all is not certain for Apple, particularly with the introduction of the $199 Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablets. “iPad shipments in [Apple's] core market — the United States — are likely to come under pressure in Q4 due to the launch of the Fire and Nook at extremely competitive price points,” writes Canalys analyst Tim Coulling.
The rival tablets could perhaps be most damaging to the Android-powered tablets, which some reports suggest could be left on shelves due to low pricing.
But all of this rests on tablets taking on some of the tasks now accomplished by desktop and notebook computers. Despite the chatter of their wide utility in the field for reading manuals and replacing some mobile tasks, tablets remain largely a consumption device. Personally, I’m a huge tablet fan, watching videos, playing games, reading emails, surfing the Internet and more. But when I need to produce: write, manipulate images, and such, I turn to my desktop iMac. As we saw last week, the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant is beating the pants off the PC industry with huge demand for the Mac. Apple doesn’t need any favors to boost its PC sales.
What do you think? Is a tablet a PC, or is it, as Steve Jobs saw it, a device that sits between your phone and your PC? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.