One in six personal computers (PCs) shipped in Q4 of 2012 was an iPad. That's according to Canalys, who also reported that worldwide PC shipments were up 12% over the same quarter in 2011, with 134 million PCs sold. Canalys counts tablets in the PC category, and those devices made up one third of all PC sales in Q4. In total, Apple shipped 27 million units, with HP in second at 15 million PCs shipped. Canalys attributes Apple’s tablet growth to strong demand for the iPad mini:
Apple’s growth in the pad segment was driven by strong demand for the iPad mini. Its overall shipments, however, were hampered by supply issues. Canalys estimates that the mini made up over half of Apple’s total pad shipments, with its attractive price point and compact design leading to significant cannibalization in the iPad range and wider PC market. Despite record shipments, Q4 saw Apple’s pad share dip to 49%, becoming the first quarter it has not controlled over half the market. ‘Apple timed the launch of the iPad mini well,’ said Pin-Chen Tang, Canalys Research Analyst. ‘Its success proves there is a clear demand for pads with smaller screens at a more affordable price. Without the launch, Apple would surely have lost more ground to its competitors.’
There is still debate about whether or not tablets like the iPad should even be counted as PCs. Apple has argued for the past few years that we are in the ‘Post-PC’ era with devices like the iPhone and iPad.
If we stick to a decidedly narrow definition of what a PC is -- a screen with a mouse and keyboard -- then maybe the iPad doesn’t fit in that category. Then again, people once said the same thing about Mac and Windows in an age of Apple II and DOS. When we look at what most people use their computers for, things like reading and replying to email, browsing the web, or listening to music, then the fact that the iPad is a PC becomes obvious. It's an even more personal personal computer than ever before.
Where do you stand? Are we at a transformative stage, where one day tablets will dominate PC sales, or should they be broken apart, with traditional PC "trucks" measured separately than new fangled tablet "cars"?