Apple vs. PC Shipments: “PC” Decline Worse Than Reported

Based on data from Gartner and IDC, AllThingsD reported that it was a very bad year for PC shipments, except at Apple

I have a problem with that. 

It isn’t that it’s not true, but rather that PC growth vs. Apple is even worse than reported. To see why, let’s look at the chart from Gartner for US “PC” shipments, where the conclusion is that Apple growth increased 20.7% while PC growth declined 5.9%. 


It makes sense until you realize Apple’s (i.e., Mac) data is included in the same total to which it’s being compared. In other words, Apple’s stellar year is propping up the “PC” (i.e., non-Mac) numbers, making “PC” shipments look better than they really were.

If you truly want to know how Apple did in the US on its own against “PCs”, you must subtract it from the latter’s numbers. Here’s what you get: 

  • Total 4Q11: 15,854,964
  • Total 4Q10: 17,342,605
  • 4Q11-4Q10 Growth: -8.5

The originally reported dismal “PC” growth of -5.9% becomes an even more dismal -8.5% without Apple’s numbers propping it up. That -2.6% delta is not insignificant, it’s over 40% worse than what was reported.

IDC’s numbers are also available. As usual, they do not agree completely with Gartner, yet the trend is the same.

Any way you look at it, Apple is exceeding the “PC” growth rate, and if you pull their numbers from “PC” shipments to get a true Mac vs. PC comparson, the latter’s state is revealed to be even worse than it appears at first glance.

Forrester Research: Tablets Will Only Steal Sales From… Desktops?


What other conclusion can be drawn from the graph? From 2010, netbook sales barely change (18 to 17%), and laptops barely change (44 to 42%). With the tablet rising from 6 to 23%, it all comes out of desktop share (32 to 18%).


Forrester’s report is questionable right up front. It predicts sales of 3.5M tablets this year, and 20.4M in 2015. Those numbers are so low it’s ridiculous. Apple is already over 2M sales this year; Forrester thinks they can’t even double that by December 31? Thats nuts. Apple will hit 8M or more this year, and who knows what other tablet players will join the game in the coming months.

As for netbooks, I disagree their sales percentage will remain steady over the next five years. Their sales growth is already slowing. People are figuring out they’re not the “laptop” they promise to be. Netbooks have all the headaches of PCs without the size or power to have enough of the benefits. Cheap laptops make better sense, and a tablet even more-so. Netbooks’ day in the sun is nearing its end; I see a pretty small trickle five years hence. 

Regarding laptops, they’ll feel the pinch of tablets getting faster with more sophisticated software, which won’t take long. Look at where the software is already: iWork or Documents To Go productivity suites; Photogene for great image editing; Reel Director or iMovie for iPhone (iPad won’t be far behind) for video, etc. And these are here now, imagine what we’ll have in just a year. I could argue these apps are already close to doing what the majority of consumers need in these areas. There are certainly rough edges, but they’ll get smoothed. Laptops are going to feel the heat sooner than Forrester imagines.

I agree on desktops’ decline, but that’s already happening and has been for a while. Laptops have eaten their lunch in the past, but tablets will encroach on laptops as explained above. 

The tablet form factor is going to be huge. I’m already on record that it’s how “all” computers will work someday, and I don’t think critical mass will take as long as the GUI did, which is apparently what Forrester is expecting.

Just 20M tablets sold in 2015? They’ll pass that number in 2012. Netbook and laptop percentage will decline more than Forrester is predicting, and tablet percentages will be higher. Forrester’s report seems written to appease those vested in the status quo, but it doesn’t make it realistic.

iPhone 4 had a great day, but not that great

We won’t know for sure how many iPhones were preordered today until & unless Apple and AT&T choose to share, but it’s easy to say ‘millions’ with a straight face.

No it isn’t.

I’m thrilled Apple sold out their 6/24 allotment everywhere, and think iPhone 4 is off to a tremendous start. Still, millions ordered on the first day, pre-order only, and white isn’t even available? No way.

What Sales of Two Million iPads Can Tell Us

May 31, 2010—Apple® today announced that iPad™ sales have topped two million in less than 60 days since its launch on April 3.

There’s the inevitable comparison to the corresponding iPod and iPhone sales marks, but I don’t think it can reveal the iPad’s overall popularity compared to those devices. After all, iPods now routinely sell over 10M a quarter, and iPhone sales are always encumbered with carrier contracts.

What I do think we can see is that, increasingly, the iPhone OS is becoming “mainstream”. By this, I mean there’s less concern in the mind of the average consumer that a purely touch interface can work. No more garbage about how the screen will get too oily, you can’t use a software keyboard, etc. Put simply, the paradigm shift from keyboard/mouse to touch screen—at least for tasks most consumers do—is less of a question. As more and more consumers understand this, iPad sales will continue to roll.

The latest iPad ad contains the line “You already know how to use it.” Though a simple statement, I believe it’s at the very core of the iPad’s rapid rise in sales.

Reality Check: Netbook Sales Growth Slowing Drastically


The above chart speaks for itself.

The article makes a case that the iPad contributed to this, but it’s simply too soon to conclude anything like that.

I believe netbook growth keeps slowing as people find out what they really are: cheap cheap laptops. I don’t think the majority of people knew what they were getting. They expect these things to do what a desktop or laptop does, and are finding out it’s too slow and ill-equipped for the job. As it turns out, you really do get what you pay for.

A netbook may still be fine for a tech or gadget geek who’s prepared to deal with its limits, but not for the consumer who thinks they’re getting a good ol’ laptop when they’re not. I think the word is getting out, and the netbooks’ wild ride is over.