Apple’s iPad is eating notebooks for lunch


The influence of Apple’s iPad on mobile computing is made fairly obvious by the huge numbers of competitor products that we’ve seen from just about every mobile and computer company under the sun, but a new report from Deutsche Bank makes it even more apparent. Analyst Chris Whitmore reviewed notebook sales in recent years, up to the second quarter of 2011, and found that, when included, the iPad has boosted Apple beyond all laptop makers.

Without iPad sales included, Apple ranks last out of the top six global notebook manufacturers in terms of sales. But once you include the tablet, Apple jumps to the number one overall spot. Including tablets in global PC sales makes sense, because since the iPad’s introduction, sales share of traditional notebook devices among top companies like HP, Acer and Dell have either been in steady decline or more or less stagnant.

Even last December, it was apparent that the iPad was propelling Apple’s stake in the mobile PC market higher, and that doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of slowing. Competitors are still having trouble finding a foothold for their own tablets, although some predict that they’ll manage to do so in the next few years. But even if Apple doesn’t have as commanding a lead by then, it will still have secured its spot atop the mobile-computing heap, if trends continue along the path outlined by Whitmore.

A recent report from Jeffries analyst Peter Misek suggests that Apple might be moving toward a unified OS for its desktop/notebook and portable devices as early as next year. I’m still skeptical of this, since it involves a complete overhaul of the Mac line using ARM-based processor architecture, which would also necessitate huge shifts on the software side. But the iPad’s continued strong performance is a sign that Apple’s time and money may be better invested in efforts that benefit that platform most. After all, Apple has realized an additional $6 billion in revenue from the iPad alone, according to the company’s most recent earnings call. Predicting what comes next for such a game-changing product isn’t easy, but it definitely makes waiting and watching that much more exciting.

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