Tablets Fundamentally Altering Global PC Landscape, Researcher Says

Canalys pegs tablets as major factor in propelling worldwide PC market growth to 19 percent for Q4 2010, contends pads count as PCs.

January 28, 2011

D.H. Kass

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The worldwide PC market shot up some 19 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 propelled by strong sales of Apple Computer Inc.’s iPad tablet, according to data compiled by Canalys, a U.K.-based researcher.

The impact of tablets on the PC market, while relatively small now, will soon swamp the industry, according to the researcher.

“Pads gave the market momentum in 2010, just as netbooks did the year before,” said Daryl Chiam, Canalys senior analyst. “We are encouraging vendors to plan for the future and not to remain stuck in the past.”

Canalys said that its data showed that vendors shipped 105.8 million PCs during the fourth quarter 2010, a 19.2 percent spike over the 88.8 million units shipped during the similar period in 2009, driven forward primarily by the new tablet product category.

In compiling its data, Canalys counts desktops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, such as Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and industry-standard servers.

Its methodology differs from other market watchers such as International Data Corp. (IDC) and Gartner Inc., who, when charting PC shipments, count only notebooks, desktops and netbooks while reserving industry-standard servers, tablets and other handheld devices for separate studies.

The new tablet product category, or pad, as Canalys refers to it, has fast become a major factor in framing the overall PC landscape, according to Daryl Chiam, Canalys senior analyst.

“Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync,” said Chiam. “With screen sizes of seven inches or above, ample processing power, and a growing number of applications, pads offer a computing experience comparable to netbooks,” he said.

“They compete for the same customers and will happily coexist,” he said. “As with smart phones, some users will require a physical keyboard, while others will do without.”

The Canalys data indicated that for Q4 2010, Hewlett-Packard Co. shipped about 18.7 million PC units, followed by Acer at 13.6 million units, Apple at 11.5 million units and Dell Inc. at 11.4 million shipments. HP’s 17.7 percent market share leads the segment, followed by Acer at 12.8 percent share with Apple and Dell posting a 10.8 percent stake.

Of note, Canalys recorded Apple’s PC shipments for the same period last year at 3.4 million units, indicating that shipments of its iPad tablet prompted a 241 percent increase in performance year-over-year.

“Each new product category typically causes a significant shift in market shares,” said Chiam. “Apple is benefiting from pads, just as Acer, Samsung and ASUS previously did with netbooks,” he said. “The PC industry has always evolved this way, starting when Toshiba and Compaq rode high on the original notebook wave.”

Canalys said that Asia outperformed most of the other geographic regions of the world during the period, particularly in China and India, benefitting shipments by Dell and Lenovo.

Earlier this month, IDC counted tablet shipments of 4.8 million units worldwide for the third quarter of 2010, and anticipated that vendors will record some 17 million units for the year. For 2011, the researcher expects vendors to post tablet shipments of about 45 million units and follow that up with another 71 million units in 2012.

IDC and Gartner both pegged the worldwide PC market for Q4 2010 at about 90 million units shipped and for the full year about 350 million unit shipments, not including handheld devices and x86-based servers.

TAGS: PC,iPad,Apple,tablet,Canalys

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