back to article Apple sells more mobile PCs than Dell

Apple is now a more successful global seller of mobile computers than Dell, according to new third-quarter numbers from market watcher DisplaySearch. The catch: it has to include iPad sales to do so. According to DisplaySearch, Apple shipped 6.3m mobile computers - media tablets, laptops and netbooks, basically - in Q3 2010. …

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definition fail

According to the definition of personal computer used here, then my TI-83 counts as well. Please update your chart to include this. Otherwise, this is just another Apple PR story, especially since Apple doesn't even beat out HP or Acer.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, Apple own DisplaySearch

oh, wait… no they don't

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Headmaster

Mobile, Personal, Qualifications, Qualifications

Your quoted definitions are for "computer", and not "personal computer".

Wikipedia, for example, qualifies a personal computer as "...any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals..."

Further, the numbers refer to "mobile personal computers" and not "personal computers" in general, or "computers" in more general.

The article fails to make these distinctions clearly, and so muddies what could be a very interesting discussion. Instead of focusing on whether the iPad is a "mobile personal computer"*, you should have correlated with mobile growth in the overall PC (including smartphones) market to give a picture of Apple's real market growth. You made a good start with mentioning how smartphones are becoming PC replacements as well.

*Of COURSE it's a mobile personal computer -- and this is from someone who is closer to anti-fan than fan (I've never liked Apple's UI -- it's LESS intuitive to me than just about everything else out there, including command lines, and all of the Macs I've ever used have been less reliable than the various Windows and Linux boxen.)

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Linux

So

As a competitor to Windows, then, OS X is still below 5%

Much much less if you exclude USA.

Poor penguins still out in cold. But of course no figures for how many Macs and Windows Pre-installs are running Linux.

Browser figures don't help either as Linux users may fake their user agent.

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I hate bad statistics

Just because sales are ~5% vs the world for the last quarter does not mean that Mac OS does not have an over 10% install base across the world. PCs are most often returned after 3-5 years, where the average mac is kept in use much closer to 5-7 years. (laptops at the shorter end). This knowledge skews the usage numbers vs sales numbers.

As for linux, there are some small number running Linux only on personal computers, but most often, and by vast majority, Linux is an "also ran" OS, sometimes booted, sometimes in a VM (and some-time's its Windows in the VM), but rarely does the manufacturer have any impact on that user choice.

However, all of this is irrelevant as this is not an OS comparison, this is a VENDOR comparison, especially since many of Dell and HP's systems did in fact ship with non-windows OS.

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@I hate bad stats

"where the average mac is kept in use much closer to 5-7 years"

Do you have anything to back that up? Pretty much all the Mac users that I know replace their machines on a standard PC users cycle ie: 3-5ish years. In fact most of them are onto their 2nd Intel Mac and scoff at my G5. (Not a scientific selection, I know.)

Incidentally my G5 is about 5 years old and increasingly irrelevant, Apple just don't want to know about it either hardware or software wise. My HP Desktop is about four years old and still going strong, with no likely replacement for a good while yet.

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Boffin

Remember me on this computer

"Browser figures don't help either as Linux users may fake their user agent."

That may hav been true in the past, but I for one haven't bothered in years. Generally, web sites have woken up to Firefox so most sites work fine without bothering.

That said, I'm probably one of the only people (perhaps THE only person) I know who doesn't have a Windows or Mac machine at home. I *do* know more than 100 hundred people and only a couple have a Linux install, so the numbers probably aren't that far off. I do have a work XP laptop, but I'm very strict about not using XP for anything other than work.

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Better segmentation and definition needed ...

My two additional thoughts about what constitutes a mobile computing device is that it:

1. Needs to be designed for content creation and not just consumption otherwise you will be counting PSPs for Sony's portable computer market share soon too - or GPS (Garmin do about 2.4M units per quarter too?). How about mobile devices with visible screen size > % of display area during input? I would have liked to say that it should be restricted to devices with mechanical keyboards, but maybe I am being too stodgy, so, if I have a virtual keyboard on the screen, I want to be able to see a fair bit of my screen still and not just a few lines otherwise you have a consumption device used for 'data serving' only suited to occasional and inconsequential 'data processing'.

2. Needs to be able to operate independently without additional equipment i.e. not requiring a PC to configure (iPad and iTunes), have removeable storage capabilities (should not be dependent on network connectivity to input/output data) and not require proprietary connectors (e.g. iPad and Samsung Tab).

I cannot but help feel that these types of surveys are ultimately sliced and diced by vendors PR departments anyway ... let's see how Dell fairs in the next one ...

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#2

As for the keyboard, you'd eliminate ALL tablets from this debate with that clause, regardless of the OS or hardware capabilities. You'd equally have to include any iPad or other mobile device used with a BT keyboard or docking station. This is a condition that introduces variables not able to be tracked easily, and based on user preference not device capabilities. Simply by including a cheap $20 keyboard in the box, apple could essentially add every iPad as a mobile PC legitimately.

No PC is required for an iPad at all. It supports on-device activation and thus does not "require" iTunes at all. The only connection to a PC that is required it for syncing an existing media collection. However, this step can be bypassed by adding a mobile.me account and storing music and other files in the cloud (including being able to play them in the background). Files can easily be moved in and out through mobile.me or drop-box or any other similar service.

Removable storage requirements can also equally be countered through use of the cloud, drop box, and other services, and in fact, many NetBooks and even some laptops do not include a removable storage option. The iPad further DOES support SD as well as camera connection, and that can in some ways be equally used as storage. Again, this is a use case or personal preference aspect. The medium used is not determinate of the function, so long as the device can in fact create, open, edit, and share information, it meets all of the requirements of a personal computing device.

You say it requires USB, i say USB is a security risk ( to virus, data loss, and theft) and the cloud is not only more convenient, but safer. The odds of you needing to transfer data to someone else's mobile computer or any other computer in such a case as an ad-hock wifi connection can not equally be made, or connecting it via a cable, or running an app to share a file (even devoid of 3G or WiFi service offerings), will be highly rare and thus anomalous. It does not have to work in the middle of a desert to be considered a computer, that is a specialized use case, and additional equipment requirements may apply.

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Linux

Put your foot behind your head while you're at it.

The iPad is a big iPod. There's a lot of contortions you can do to get around this fact,the fact that it is basically tethered to iTunes. However, they all lead ultimately to the same place: a proper PC.

Big-iPod is how this sort of "computer" is generally used.

Non-fanboy end users don't even find the "Big iPod" moniker the least bit derogatory. They LIKE the idea. They don't have any need to see the device as something it is not or try to sell some lie to anyone else.

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Oh dear Michael C.

I think you missed a lot of the points I was trying to make in your rush to defend the iPad (for example, I did not make a keyboard a criteria!), but one in particular is very faulty and that is your reference to cloud.

Your idea that all that is required is 'the cloud' *is* the special use case. The idea of mobility inheriently means that it is fully functional anywhere. The requirement for a 3G connection to work is analogous to saying it needs to be plugged in to work (albeit over the air). 3G only covers about 30% of the worlds *urban* population currently. By default, the definition of mobile computing devices has never been applied to devices that can only be used in location A, B or C. (Ignoring special requirements like extreme temperatures or waterproof!) . For it to be mobile, the device needs to be fully functional everywhere, and for that a device needs removeable storage or open connectivity for backup, archiving (space is not limitless) and sharing.

PS - go read your cloud providers T&Cs in whom you trust. I think you will find that (1) they take no responsibility for any data loss and (2) can cut you off from your data if there is any suspicion of illegality etc. For your own sake, I suggest that you recognise cloud for what it is: AUXILARY storage i.e. backup and sharing ONLY.

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FAIL

and?

Big whoop. Apple sell more 'mobile PCs' than the third largest non-apple laptop manufacturer. This is news how, exactly? El Reg needed to meet its monthly 'we love apple posts' quota in order to keep getting the free fruitware or something?

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FAIL

Err

You must be new here.

Otherwise you'd know that El Reg isn't invited to Apple events, and it seems El Reg is confused about what to do about it.

We get a stream of these apple-suck-up pieces every so often for a few weeks, and then in a few weeks there'll be a substancial anti-apple piece which undoes any sucking up thats done. Meanwhile the new apple product coverage from El Reg continues to be watching other peoples streams.

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Title

As everyone said, with those definitions it is exceedingly vague to try to determine what should or should not be on this list. But one of the two I think distinctly excludes the iPad from these figures.

If you define a personal computer as "an electronic device for storing and processing data" (New Oxford American Dictionary)

The iPad isn't for storing or processing data, it is for consuming data and accessing data. Apple's marketing makes this very clear. The lack of access into things like the filesystem makes this very clear. The lack of freedom to install various data processing applications makes this very clear.

The iPad is comparable to a cell phone without the phone service, not to a PC.

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WTF?

whole heartedly disagree

It has a full productivity suite, the ability to open Word, PDF, and other documents, and can share and disseminate information in a variety of ways. The form factor may prohibit productivity in terms of how LONG it takes to do that, or how comfortable it is, but it is in fact no less capable of doing that thing.

it HAS a file storage system, just not a user addressable system of files and folders. You can move documents in and out of the iPad, program independent, and use any number of programs ot access the files stored in that area. There are a plethora of data processing applications for the iPad (and more every day). Just because a specific application for doing so is not available on one platform or another does not make that platform less of a computing device. Should we exclude Windows 7 from being called a PC because it has no native SSH support, or because it can't run AppleScript code or support Linux printer drivers? That's just assinine.

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I guess it depends on how you define these things..

Because the iPad can, and does, Store and process data, as you consume it.

That video you've gained from iTunes is stored on the device. The video data is processed and presented on the screen.

With iWork your document is stored on the device, and the changes you make processed into the document.

The App Store is full of "Data" "processing" applications, and you're welcome to add any you feel are missing.

It may not give you as ,much power to do things as a traditional PC, but to say it doesnt do these things because it doesnt do them exactly the way you want them to doesn't make it suddenly not do them.

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Anonymous Coward

@Michael C

My Windows phone 7 has pretty much all of that sutff - it certainly isn't a mobile computer.

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Re

Yep, Mike C walked right into my hand.

My Blackberry can open Word, PDF, PPT and a plethora of other file types. It can store data, music and videos on a memory chip. My Blackberry then is a PC? What?

The line is drawn between devices made to access content versus devices made to produce content. Apple products in general are not well made to produce content, but in the case of the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, they are very distinctly single purpose niche consumption devices. It is intellectually dishonest to argue otherwise. The iPad is not a computer.

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lets classify then

A mobile computing device fitting either description noted, but that includes a keyboard (physical or virtual) or user input system designed to be used by 2 hands while sitting on a lap or table, a full color screen capable of both still and video images, and the ability to load applications including not less than a productivity suite, web access, and messaging. We define anything less as a PDA (or smart-phone if it in fact includes calling services via a provider).

The fact the iPad is eating so successfully into NetBook sales goes a long way here, as do all the people who use one in place of a laptop completely. Further, every other companies existing tablets (no matter how poorly selling) are equally included in PC sales.

It may not be a "full OS" device, but it certainly is a mobile computing device, and though the form factor is not ideal (without combining it at least with a docked or BT keyboard), it certainly is a productivity workstation, can handle corporate presentations, can play games, and so much more. I'd argue if we're to drop the iPad from this category, drop NetBooks as well, as I feel equally handicapped using an 11" netbook on an Atom processor as I do an iPad.

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Oh, Michael...

Michael, why does it matter to you so much?

I'm amused that when it was launched, the iPad was a whole new category of device. But now it's a proper computer and not a different device after all. Poor old desperate-to-be-number-1 Apple.

Also, I keep reading about how the iPad is eating into netbook sales, but would I not be right in saying that netbooks are still selling at a much greater rate than the iPad, or tablets in general, for that matter? Don't have figures to hand, but I don't see any from anyone else, so I'll declare that netbook sales are actually increasing at an exponentially hyperbolicalistic rate compared to iPads. Probably.

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Linux

The great deciever and Apple trees...

A "mobile computing device" is something that I can control. I am in control of what data is on the device and I am in control of what programs run on the device. I can even create programs of my own with little effort or bother.

A jailbroken iPad can be called a mobile computing device.

A stock iPad is just the Apple version of the Archos 9.

I don't try to call my Archos 5 a "computing device" despite the fact that it can play my PC video files without transcoding, doesn't require some special app for device management, has the ability to browse the local LAN, and has it's own silly little "apps".

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Re

Mike C: 0

Jedidiah: 1

"Using the iPad as a laptop replacement" You really had me laughing there. The only cases in which an iPad can replace a laptop or netbook is when the user did not need a laptop or netbook and had not made an informed decision with regard to their computing needs.

Apple users tend to be a little off compared to PC users? Make poor choices and are technologically uniformed? You don't say... News to me.

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Classification

If and when the iPad is able to operate 100% independently without it being necessary to sync to iTunes, then yes, I would definitely say it counts as a "real" mobile computer. As it is, I'd have to say "kinda maybe sorta-ish".

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Headmaster

To PC or not to PC

If people are buying ipads instead of a netbook or notebook then it is entirely valid to include them in these figures.

Whether that is the case or not is debatable of course.

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