Nearly a year ago, I predicted in my Computerworld column that Apple’s iPad would not only eat into netbook sales, but sales of laptops and even desktop PCs. It was an unpopular prediction.
If you look at the 300+ comments attached to that piece, you’ll see that the majority of commenters at the time thought I was crazy, stupid or both.
One wrote: “Obviously Mike Elgan has gone off the deep end on this one. This article is so naive to the real world, and so far fetched it makes me think this is nothing but, once again, a biased article by an iSheep in its purest form.”
Another said: “This article made me laugh out loud. I thought I was reading The Onion!”
Still others were more direct: “I’m pretty sure this is the stupidest article on the internet.”
You still hear people dissing the iPad these days, of course, but nobody dismisses it. Sales of the iPad have far exceeded the expectations of all but a tiny minority of us who were very bullish from the start. Analysts have had to raise and raise again their unit-sales estimates. Early doubters have been silenced.
Now, you might think I’ve come to brag that I was right and my critics were wrong about iPad replacing PCs. A Gartner report published this week says that PC shipments are down from last year. Overall PC shipments in the United States fell by 6.1 percent. HP was down 3.5 percent. Dell dropped 12 percent. And Acer took a nearly 25 percent hit in unit sales. Meanwhile, Apple’s sales grew nearly 20 percent.
One analyst at Gartner said the PC declines resulted from buyers “turning their attention” to media tablets and other devices. The “media tablet” market is a euphemism for the iPad, which owns 70 percent market share and is expected to sell in the 45 million unit range this year.
But no, I’m not here to brag. The replacement of PCs I predicted hasn’t quite begun in earnest. The replacement will come. And I will brag. But for now, it’s more interesting to see how the iPad is gradually undermining the foundations of PC dominance.
Here’s how Apple’s iPad is setting the stage for the decline of the PC.
Maybe we are now getting a hint of what Jobs meant by a post-PC world. Computing innovation will be driven by things that are not PCs except in very general sense. What has been called a PC for the last 30 will not have much relevance in such a world.
Pretty scary to a lot of companies. Those that cannot adapt rapidly to the app economy spreading through the industry.