Tim Cook says iPad will eventually outsell PCs

According to Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope, Apple COO Tim Cook suggested during a meeting that the tablet market -- which is currently dominated by the iPad -- could eclipse the PC market over the next several years.

Shope says, "the company appeared more overtly optimistic on the long-term prospects for the iOS platform than it has been in quite some time." Cook said, "he sees no reason why the tablet market shouldn’t eclipse the PC market over the next several years," according to Shope's note.

Analysts say a lot of things, and Cook's words do seem a little far-fetched, but given Apple's growth in the tablet market (which they essentially created) it's not completely unheard of. Shope calculates Apple could sell 8.1 million iPads for the June quarter, which would represent a 72% increase year-over-year.

So how long before the iPad starts putting the stomp on PC sales? Sound off in the comments!


Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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There are 30 comments. Add yours.

Steve says:

But...but you can't activate an iPad without a PC :(

west3man says:

...or update it without one.

Macboy74 says:

Boy o boy again you don't need a pc to activate a ipad. Never did. Why do people keep saying this? I thought the ipad was already putting a big dent in pc sales.

T says:

this will not happen although I do see the tablet market surpassing the PC market. I think though that in a years time Android will be on more tablets than iOS will. As the hardware gets better and the prices come down (which they already area) apple will lose some market share just like they have in the mobile phone market

(Copy of) Dev says:

It is going to put an increasingly large hurt on PC sales, but eclipse them? Even assuming a future iPad does not require a PC to activate, this still will not happen without some fundamental changes in Apple's developer approach. The majority of PC sales are still to businesses, and the iPad, while great, is not a one-size-fits-all device. A plurality of these businesses require some type of custom software, or off-the-shelf-software that is customized after purchase, of the type that either cannot be made on and iPad, or cannot be made and deployed easily.
Yes, I am fully aware of the Enterprise Development program, but that is nowhere near what vertical apps need. It also applies only to the large outfits that have their own in-house staffs (or contractors). It does nothing for the small business (plumber, medical practice, retail outlet) at all. Of course, the quality of the average iOS app is much greater than that of the average VB app, but those VB (and now, .NET) apps sold -- and continue to sell -- a lot of systems to businesses both large and small.
Most of these flaws are more process than technical, though, so Apple could certainly correct these if they want those markets. Right now, though, they can't keep up with demand as it is, so they will not bother. In the future, if/when Android/Windows8/RIM tablets correct their own technical flaws and make a credible move after those markets, Apple will change. But not before.

Michael says:

Tablets with Flash perhaps. iPads without, not so much.

taharka says:

Did he say the iPad will outsell PCs or that "tablets" will outsell PCs. There is a huge difference there. Wich is it?

webvex says:

It appears the analyst said tablets (from the meeting with Cook), but the author misinterpreted it as iPads. Also, he said they would eclipse, not diminish PC sales.

Timu says:

Actually it is completely unheard of. As was mentioned, the majority of PC sales are still for business use. As fun as tablets are for home use, they are simply inadequate for day to day business use. You simply cannot work an 8 hour day on a tablet, it would be uncomfortable and unproductive. You could attach a keyboard and external screen to it... but then is it really a tablet anymore? Furthermore, businesses are tied to their current legacy systems, as much as they may hate it, and migrating to a platform as drastically different as a tablet, would be a major and costly move. So unless there is any benefit in for them, they won't be in any hurry to ditch PCs in favour of tablets.
I could however, see tablets overtake the Personal PC sales segment. Tablets are at the point that for your average Joe, they almost do everything you do on a day to day basis. Internet, Email, basic Word Processing, and simple Gaming. We might see the personal PC resigned to just gamers and enthusiasts as the tablet becomes the personal device of choice.

Samyuel says:

Flash has nothing to do with sales. Personally I'd like flash on Apple devices like my touch(Actually I have it on my Droid Incredible)
On the other hand while flash is widely used it's terrible and very memory hoarding. Like say.....iTunes. Heh.
Tablet sales going over PC is a bit farfetched though. I can see the whole cell phone market outgrowing the PC market. At this point tablets are more luxury or middle of the road than neccesary in world society compared to a PC, laptop, or cell phone.
So it could happen. But not soon.

devin says:

8.1 million? oooh, PCs are shaking in their boots. Seriously this is bad reporting. PC sales were over 346 million last year.
Apple is still a very small player in the market, all all the Ipads and Mac's combined and they are still much less than 10% of the market.

Andrew Wray says:

8.1 million units in a single quarter is an astounding number for a new-genre product that has only been on the market for a little over a year. That's already ~10% of PC sales in a 12 month period (not factoring quarterly growth), when the 'PC' has been on the market for over 30 years now. It has already been speculated that PC sales may see a decline y/y in 2011 and moving into 2012.
Not to mention, Cook suggested this could happen in several years from now -- not tomorrow morning people ;)

Bluecanary says:

How many PCs were sold the 1st quarter of the second year they were out, hmm? Yeah, I thought so.

francolasalsa#IM says:

I would day I could see this happen because with all due honesty tablets power will continue to grow and maybe even catch up to PC ( if not then at least to netbooks and laptops) . Also main word in this story is ECLIPSE ! there will always be a NEED for a PC however with the rise in computing power of smartphones and tablet , there will be less need to update a PC because people will do a lot more computing on mobile devIces

Alli says:

Forget activating - if you don't have a pc (or a Mac), you can't add media to your iPad, and that's what most people want them for. I just finished explaining to someone that no, he can't get rid of his pc and get an iPad and a usb drive to put movies onto his iPad.

Analog Spirit says:

Exactly... and this is the main reason I won't get a tablet unless it can be used as a standalone device, without any need for a computer.

RobCal says:

@alli... So if he were to get rid of his pc, where would he be getting stuff for his flash drive from?

Mister-E says:

That is the situation now for the iPad. That can easily be changed in the future, look at the Blackberry Playbook, it does not need a computer to be activiated, all it needs is an internet connection.
As for media, there is not much you can do without iTunes (except for downloading from the app store). If the iPad adds support to external backup and media is managed directly on the device, it would eliminate the need for a PC (in terms of being to function on its own).
Over time the dependancy obstacles can be overcome.

John says:

According to Canalys, 5 notebooks or 5 netbooks will not be sold for every 10 tablets sold. Deloitte predicts tablets and smartphones will outsell computers in 2011.
While the tablet industry is in its infancy (let's just forget about MS's 10 years of failure), with growing power and, thus, capabilities, there is little to believe that the computer in ten years will look like the lame boxes and towers we use today.
As for requiring a computer for an iPad, not true. Just ask your salesperson at the Apple Store to assist you with setting it up.
As for Flash, I think Walt Mossberg says it best at the 1:40 point.http://online.wsj.com/video/d9-video-adobe-ceo----flash-war-is-over/7425...ArticleVideocarousel_1
Besides, didn't Adobe raise the white flag?http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/04/adobe-throws-in-towel-adopts-h...

Kevin says:

Sounds good to me. If the iPad outsells laptops it'll drive prices down and since I want absolutely nothing to do with these silly tablets but DO want a banging gaming laptop this is a win/win for me.
Bring on more stupid tablets!!!

TK says:

They really need to stop with this idealistic "tablet takeover". Tablets will NEVER replace the PC. Tablet parts can't be swapped out for newer parts. You want a faster tablet and more memory, you have to buy a new one, you can't open it up and swap out the parts yourself. We will more likely see an evolution in laptops, with touch screen monitors that can swivel around to become tablets. While desktops get touch screen monitors. Because not all programs can be controlled on screen, some require a mouse and keyboard.
And tablets still require a PC to load media onto it, snyc and back up. Tablets don't ever have USB ports, at least with a USB port you can hook up an external CD drive if needed. Tablets are still an expensive ereader that plays movies and has a gimped web browser.

Mister-E says:

I agree. Besides upgrading, the biggest issue is replacing broken parts, such as the screen or a dead battery. There will always be a need for PC muscle, but for browsing the web, and watching videos, a tablet is fine. Look at the Playbook, it can be hooked up to a monitor via hdmi, and a keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth, which would allow editing of documents and spreadsheets as easily on a regular PC.
Anyway, a tablet is just a PC without a physical keyboard and the processing power.

zaersx says:

It'll happen when the iPad gets flash.

Henny says:

They ( Apple ) need more than 7 weeks to deliver my two ordered ipad's and I still don't have theme! They ( Apple ) need more than 11 weeks to deliver my ordered iMac 27" with SSD! I don't think Apple will take over :-)