PC makers falling further behind Apple, says Canalys

PC makers have their work cut out for them over the next 12 months. To compete with the iPad, PC makers need to add touch to ultrabooks -- but that adds cost.

Ultrabooks with touch screens like the Asus Taichi will bring added cost for PC vendors. This is happening at a time when ultrabook prices should be coming down, said Canalys.
Ultrabooks with touch screens like the Asus Taichi will bring added cost for PC vendors. This is happening at a time when ultrabook prices should be coming down, said Canalys. Canalys

Things are not looking good for PC makers in the age of the iPad.

Market researcher Canalys makes this point with PC shipment stats, which are a function of the way it sees the PC market. In short, tablets are PCs too. (And note Canalys defines "PC" generically, not the traditional definition of a Windows PC.)

That gives Apple an overwhelming lead over No.2 Hewlett-Packard. In the second quarter, Apple shipped about 21 million PCs versus about 13.5 million for HP, according to a Canalys report released today. Lenovo was a close third with 13.1 million (see table below).

"There is now a large base of replacement buyers that simply must have the latest Apple product," Canalys said in a statement. "The decision to continue shipping the iPad 2 at lower price points has opened up new customers, for example in education."

Apple has a wide lead in 'PC' shipments, according to market researcher Canalys.
Apple has a wide lead in 'PC' shipments, according to market researcher Canalys. Canalys

PC makers won't have it easy in the coming 12 months. Here's why, according to Canalys:

  • Microsoft Surface tablet pricing: Namely, the Surface and Surface Pro. Prices of both may be too high to capture significant market share, analyst Pin Chen Tang told CNET. (Though that's simply speculation until Microsoft announces pricing.) And Canalys has advised PC vendors "to postpone launches of Windows RT [tablets] until Microsoft rethinks the high license fee." Add the fact that PC makers must now compete with Microsoft, and it doesn't exactly paint a bright picture.
  • Windows 8 touchscreens drive up cost: Though the Windows 8 launch will garner attention in the fourth quarter, "users will only benefit fully from the new OS if they buy PCs with touch screens, which will significantly increase the purchase price," Canalys said in a statement. To counter this Microsoft should "subsidize" touch panel production, Tang added. That would allow PC makers to hit mainstream prices despite the added cost of a touch panel. Note that Intel is already investing money in touch panels in order to help PC makers defray costs.
  • Ultrabooks not there yet: Ultrabooks have not hit price points that would "excite large numbers of buyers and the share of the overall market taken by Windows fell to a new low of 73 percent." Intel's share also hit an all-time low, falling below 70 percent.

On balance, Windows 8 is necessary, Tang said. "Windows is a slowly declining OS. And Microsoft is trying to make it more interesting. I think they're doing it the right way [with] the Windows 8 preview that Microsoft released to consumers. At least people know what to expect I think most people can accept it," Tang said.

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