Fast Company

Apple Just Became the Number One U.S. PC Vendor, Kinda

Macs

Apple's just been confirmed as the top PC vendor in the U.S.--if you look at things in a certain way. What's the trick? You have to include iPad sales in the figures.

IDC has just done its math and worked out that for the first time in its modern era, Apple has won over 10% of the PC market in the U.S. As we noted earlier, this is a notional milestone...but still an important one, which many other industry figures will be paying attention to (given the news about Outlook and a Vuze portal on Macs, Microsoft itself is reacting to the trends already).

But if you blend in sales data from Gartner to the mix, you get a different and altogether astonishing picture: Apple may have become the number one PC vendor in the U.S. Forget Dell, forget Acer and Asus with their netbooks, forget Sony's sleek Vaios--it's all about Apple. You know--that PC maker that people still think overcharges for its computers, and which only "creative types" use.

The one wrinkle in this thinking is that this math only works if you count iPads as mobile computers.

I know, I know. Some of you will have thrown your hands in the air at this, declaiming your displeasure at any such thought, and despairing at a future where kids get used to "closed" ecosystems and PC programming creativity is a distant memory. But bear with us on this. We were recently careful to note that claims iPads were depressing sales of notebooks weren't necessarily straightforward.

But then this week, during the press call concerning Intel's finances, CEO Paul Otellini conceded a little, measurable, notable nibble was probably being taken out of PC sales by Apple's iPad. From a big industry name like this--one whose future hinges, in many respects, on future tablet PCs utilizing his company's products--this is a huge admission. And it definitely lends credence to the notion that you should count iPads as mobile computers. There's also some compelling common-sense thinking about the matter (notably that the iPad can do many things a "normal" computer can do, plus many extra things, and it's finding increasing use cases in industry and enterprise).

With Apple's push to expand availability of the iPad in the U.S., a continuing international roll-out (whose speed has already been limited by the available production line capacity in China) more and more iPads are going to be sold. Particularly if Apple does surprise us all with a cheaper 7-inch version. We're also expecting to see refreshed Macs in the event next week, and possibly that smaller, lighter MacBook Air everyone's waiting for. The timing for a reveal of Apple's new Mac operating system couldn't be any better. In other words, even with a tide of competing tablet devices expected any moment, Apple's position at the top of the computer game is only going to get more comfortable.

To keep up with this news, and more like it, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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