An interesting discussion is currently raging through the world of computing, or more accurately, through the world of bloggers and analysts. It basically comes down to this: should the iPad be included in laptop and desktop sales figures? If it is included – Apple becomes the largest PC manufacturer in the United States. But, if the iPad should be included – why not the modern smartphone?
Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore used IDC’s figures and added the iPad into the mix – a type of device normally excluded from IDC’s figures (which looks at traditional computers like desktops and laptops). The result? Apple suddenly has the largest marketshare in the US computer market, at 25%. The discussion that has ensued is this: is the iPad a PC? Should it be included?
I’d say the discussion shouldn’t focus on whether or not the iPad should be included – but about what that means for other types of devices. If the iPad is considered a computer along the lines of laptops and desktops, then why isn’t the iPhone or iPod Touch considered a computer as well? What about all those Android phones out there? Hardware-wise, they’re all pretty much the same; the iPad is just a large iPhone with UI tweaks to make better use of the larger screen.
How much more can you do on an iPad that you can’t do on an iPhone? The iPad surely makes some things more comfortable, but then again, a normal desktop PC makes some things more comfortable than a laptop. In the end, both the modern smartphone and the tablet are used for the exact same thing: consuming media, playing games, browsing, and keeping in touch with friends. It’s just that smartphones are used on the go, whereas tablets are used at your destination.
In other words, if the iPad should be included in computer sales figures, shouldn’t modern smartphones be included as well? If not, is screen size what determines whether something is included or not? A 4.3″ smartphone should be excluded, but what about the 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab? What if someone makes a pocketable dual 3.5″ Courier-like device?
I think the time is ripe to remove the distinction between smartphones/tablets/computers altogether. The iPad, the iPhone, the EVO 4G, HTC Desire HD – they’re all computers, and they should all be included in these figures. Suddenly, Nokia would be one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world. A whole bag of cookies for anyone who can combine smartphone/tablet/computer market share figures into a single graph or chart.