Apple is the Biggest U.S. PC Maker. Really?

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, Apple is now the biggest US PC maker. Really? Yes indeed, if you read between the lines of the latest Gartner and IDC PC marketshare data. Even without those sales, the once-declared-dead Apple Inc. has achieved an impressive 10 percent share of the US PC market. IDC has declared the company to be the third-biggest PC maker.

These figures are astonishing. They represent a substantial transformation for the company, which has accomplished a significant move from the periphery into the core of the PC industry. This is why the Mac still matters at Apple Inc.

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

Tied up to Apple's move to offer us what we believe will be new record-setting financial results next week (Wall Street chatter currently speculates we're looking at a $20 billion AAPL quarter) and its subsequent special event at which it will reveal a few hints at the future of its OS, this is turning into a hugely significant month for the company.

The future of Apple's OS is also the future of computing, at least if you take into account Apple's 13.7 percent market growth year-on-year in the third calendar quarter. That's substantially more growth than the 2.2 percent industry average for the period. Apple continues to fire on all cylinders, as it has for a decade.

Gartner seems keen to concede the iPad impact on Apple's Mac fortunes, saying:

"Apple had another strong quarter. Increasing traffic to Apple, associated with the iPad release (iPads are not included in Gartner's PC shipment statistics), as well as iMac and Mac Pro refreshes, contributed to the growth."

Despite that neither firm has yet moved to include tablets within their PC marketshare figures is particularly risible when you consider both firms concede the iPad has impacted broader PC sales, impacting netbooks in particular.

David Daoud, research director at IDC said, "If media tablets are meant for media consumption, the PC as a productivity tool is fairly safe. It's the second tool, the netbook, that is unsafe."

He's wrong, of course. Tablets, including the iPad, may be being introduced as media consumption devices, but that's only in the first iteration.

It is ever so obvious that iPads can be used as productivity devices -- that's why Fortune 500 companies are adopting them; that is why corporations are considering them a viable and lightweight alternative to notebooks for business trips.

The PC as a productivity tool is far from safe. While the analysts say the "hype" surrounding the iPad served to delay PC sales, what they haven't yet considered is the hype we're going to see surrounding iPad 2.0.

The more productive successor which will host a faster processor and more memory; a camera and a higher-res screen. And will be lighter than the existing strain.

This hype begins next week when Apple seems ready to introduce us to the future of computing, aka the next version of its OS.

Whatever new features the company chooses to unleash within its OS will likely shake up the industry. We've been hearing lots of speculation of moves into the cloud, so you'll access all the features of your Mac from any device, including your iPhone.

Speculate: If iPhone has access to Mac features, then will you also get these via a TV set using an Apple TV?

Next week's event may also see the introduction of new versions of iLife and iWork. Meanwhile Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu now anticipates Apple will introduce a new MacBook Air at next week's event.

"Our checks with supply chain sources over the last 6-9 months have indicated evidence of a new subnotebook form factor," he wrote.

"We had thought it would be released earlier this year but believe it may finally see the light of day as the new MacBook Air."

Could this be the iPad pro? And if it is, when, oh when, with Gartner and IDC accept the error of their ways and choose to recognise tablet sales as PC sales?

If they do, then imagine if Apple had sold just 4.5 million iPads in the last quarter (which seems conservative, given news out of Apple's component supply chains). Add those sales to its PC sales and Steve Jobs now leads what is arguably the biggest computer company in the world.

We'll get a better insight on this later in the month when Canalsys, which does count tablet sales as PC sales, releases its PC marketshare reports.

Apple shipped 1.9 million PCs in the US, compared to HP's 4.5 million and Dell's 4.3 million.

The only way is up. Bob O'Donnell, IDC vice president for clients and displays, says the iPad has stimulated demand for other Apple products.

"The halo effect of the device also helped propel Mac sales and moved the company into the number three position in the US market," he said.

According to new forecasts from ABI Research, just over 11 million media tablets and 43 million netbooks will ship worldwide this year. "Apple has sold a few million iPads in its first quarter, which is great for creating a new market," ABI Research principal analyst Jeff Orr said.

This story, "Apple is the Biggest U.S. PC Maker. Really?" was originally published by Computerworld.

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