I think it’s safe to say this is a rather mixed, if not confusing, day for Apple watchers. Just to recap the, oh, last twelve hours or so, we have softer than expected iPhone 5 demand, Apple stock dipping, and Samsung pushing out over 100 million Galaxy S series devices. On the plus side, Apple is selling more Macs, although most other PC manufacturers are taking it on the chin.
According to Gartner today, overall U.S. shipments of PCs declined 2.1% in Q4 2012 (estimates), while Apple grew 5.4%. Apple wasn’t the leader in growth by a long shot. HP takes that crown with a whopping 12.6% increase and even Lenovo saw a 9.7% increase. Acer? Dropped 21.6%. Ouch. Dell? Down 16.5%. Why? Gartner suspects that tablets are to blame:
“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC. There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet.”
And I’d say they are right. Tablets helped to kill off netbooks and with PC shipments sliding (worldwide, by the way, shipments slipped 4.9% over all, no data on Apple because it isn’t in the top 5 worldwide), I think PC makers are scrambling to pivot in a world where the tablet is becoming the main computing device and a PC is like a central hub machine. Apple, I think, has adapted very well. As much as iCloud might not be perfect is does do a really good job at keeping my iOS and OS X devices in sync together (of course I do rely on Dropbox for a lot of that as well).
Is Apple poised to break into the PC market in a big way? No idea, but they are certainly fighting a good fight to do that.