Tablets Make PC Industry Look Healthier than It Actually Is

For some time smartphones have been outselling PCs. And last week hardware tracking firm Canalys confirmed this was the case for the full year 2011. 

The firm includes tablets -- it calls them "pads" -- in PC shipments. If it had not done so the numbers would look worse for the PC industry. Overall, there were 488 million smartphones "shipped" (a metric I think has dubious value) vs. 415 million PCs. However 63 million of those are "pads." 

Deducting pads from the PC shipments, the number is reduced to 352 million for the year. What that means is that approximately 136 million more smartphones shipped than PCs. The discrepancy gets even larger (200 million) we include "pads" in a broader "mobile devices" category:

  • Mobile devices (smartphones + tablets): 551 million
  • PCs (desktop, laptop, netbook): 352 million

http://www.canalys.com/static/press_release/2012/SPA%20table%201%20030212_0.png

Below are the Q4 and full year 2011 smartphone shipments figures. 

http://www.canalys.com/static/press_release/2012/SPA%20table%202%20030212_0.png

I'm in favor of eliminating the "shipped" metric, which is not necessarily representative of consumer purchases or devices actually in market. However the larger point here is merely to call out the growing gap between "mobile devices," broadly defined, and more traditional PCs.