updated 11:05 am EDT, Thu October 14, 2010
DisplaySearch sees iPad helping Apple pass Lenovo
The iPad could be Apple's key to outselling much of the portable computing market, DisplaySearch said in its latest report. Opting to include the iPad the same category as notebooks, the group expects Apple to ship nine million tablets in the second half of the year and to immediately vault over ASUS, Lenovo and Toshiba to become the fourth-largest portable computer seller in the world. Going Mac-only has previously kept Apple stuck between sixth and eighth place.
The state of affairs could also topple Dell's status in or before 2011, the researchers said. They expected iPad shipments to almost double from 13 million this year to 25 million the next. Competitors will arrive, but they weren't expected to pose any real challenge for at least the next several months. Android stood the best chance in this view.
DisplaySearch chose to include the iPad as it revived the tablet computer category that Microsoft had never properly supported. Despite Windows tablet PCs having been in existence since 2001, their sales actually dropped from 1.8 million in 2008 to as little as 1.5 million across all brands worldwide in 2009, indicating that the concept was dying under Microsoft's approach. Estimates for 2010 had put the category at just 1.25 million, a figure which Apple passed in less than two months.
Intel had tried to jolt the category with Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), but these too withered away as neither Intel nor partners could explain their reasons for being. The four- to seven-inch handhelds were widely seen as merely attempts to put the Atom in more smartphone-like sizes at a time when it was too power-hungry to compete with ARM. Dell recently resuscitated the category with the Streak, though it runs an ARM chip and Android.
Analysts at both Gartner and IDC have consciously excluded iPads from their figures since they don't run desktop operating systems with similar features, but acknowledged its effect on PCs as customers either avoided netbooks to buy iPads or were attracted by the tablets to ultimately buy Macs.