Apple could challenge Hewlett-Packard, Dell and other PC manufacturers for the balance of 2011, according to a new analyst report.
"Within the computing market, we see significant opportunity for Apple to take meaningful share in the second half as the Microsoft / PC ecosystem is relatively stagnant, lacking meaningful new offerings," Chris Whitmore, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note to clients reprinted by Fortune. "On the other hand, Apple will be competing with an upgraded Mac OS, new MacBook Airs (and other forthcoming Macs) and a new iPad iOS."
With the iPad factored into his calculations for the notebook market, Apple took first place in global market share. Whether tablets belong in that category, of course, is a point of debate among many.
Indeed, the iPad potentially cannibalizing the existing PC market has also been a hot topic of discussion among analysts in recent months. During Apple's last earnings call, COO Tim Cook acknowledged the effect of the iPad on his own company's products. "Some customers chose to purchase an iPad instead of a new Mac during the quarter," he told media and analysts. "But even more customers chose to buy an iPad over a Windows PC. . . . There's a lot more of the PC Windows business to cannibalize."
Analysts have chewed over the cannibalization issue ever since.
"The iPad has successfully integrated the functionality of a slimmed-down notebook into a media-player form factor," Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall wrote in a July research note, "and has effectively rendered a significant portion of the Mac (and potentially the iPhone) product family obsolete. This presents a serious problem as iPhones and Macs generated 64 [percent] of Apple's total revenue in [calendar year] 2010."
Apple continues to ramp up its iPad distribution, with an increased focus on the enterprise. According to the company, some 86 percent of the Fortune 500 is either testing or deploying the tablet. "To be this far into the enterprise with a product that's only been shipping for 15 months is incredible because the enterprise is traditionally much more conservative," Cook said on the call.
In order to better compete with the iPad, rival manufacturers are doing everything from dropping prices (in the case of HP's TouchPad) to re-skinning the Android interface (as with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1's latest "TouchWiz" update). But if the iPad is cannibalizing PC sales, what can those rivals do to ensure a healthy market for their traditional notebook offerings?