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Apple the World's Top PC Maker? Depends on What You Call a PC

Apple the World's Top PC Maker? Depends on What You Call a PC

Could Apple end up being the biggest maker of personal computers by the end of 2012? It's very possible, according to Canalys, though it depends on whether you want to count an iPad as a personal computer. Apple's future performance, of course, will also be a factor, especially in regard to its launch strategy for the next version of the iPad.

By Rachelle Dragani MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
11/23/11 5:00 AM PT

Apple's mammoth new store in New York's Grand Central Station probably won't be open before Black Friday, but with momentum in the PC market, renewed patents and continuing strength across its ecosystem, the company looks strong heading into one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

The new Apple retail store under construction in Manhattan's Grand Central Station was rumored to announce today it would open up for Black Friday, but the heavy black drapes that have covered the store were still in place as of late Tuesday, covering the sound of tools and any view of the progress. As of press time, Apple hasn't released any information on the store, which will be the company's biggest yet and will sit in one of the most trafficked areas in the country.

With multiple reports coming out this week indicating Apple's power in various markets, though, it doesn't appear that the company is in any particular need of a boost from a new store. One report even predicts that by the second half of 2012, Apple will surpass HP to become the world leader in personal computer sales -- but it depends on how you do the counting.

PC Dominance

Apple becoming the world's top computer maker would depend upon whether one counts the iPad as a personal computer. The prediction is particularly dependent on the iPad 3, which is rumored to launch in early 2012. Analysts from Canalys decided to include tablet sales in the PC market.

"Including the iPad might be controversial, but if you look at what it's being used for -- things like e-mail and social networking -- it can have an effect on traditional PC sales. If you are a vendor looking at this market and trying to compete in the market, you're going to have to take the tablet into account," Tim Coulling, analyst with Canalys, told MacNewsWorld.

Apple has seen a jump in its PC market share from 9 percent to 15 percent over the past year, if tablet sales are counted. In the field of tablets, none of Apple's rivals can touch the iPad's sales. Around the holiday season, though, more affordable options for gift-giving, such as Amazon's Kindle Fire could take a bite out of Apple's share. Android's release of Ice Cream Sandwich could also be a factor in giving the iPad tougher competition, Coulling said.

"Other vendors are trying to compete the best they can with iOS, but that is many years of a content system, with an extension built around it, that really attracts developers and others. Android wasn't quite ready for tablets with Honeycomb, but ... it should be more capable with its Ice Cream Sandwich platform. It really marries the tablet and phone part together and has more of the ecosystem building going on with more apps, which could be a welcome boost to Android," said Coulling.

In terms of apps, Android might need a boost, but more from a monetary point of view. A report from Piper Jaffray Tuesday showed that while Android has 50 percent of the app market share, as much as 80 to 90 percent of the money spent on mobile apps goes to Apple, compared to just a 7 percent for Android.

It's difficult to measure how much value the two receive from apps, though, since Apple makes money from selling software, while Google sometimes benefits from ads sold on the apps. There are different ways to view each company's takeaway.

Wide World of Patents

Apple's also been handed a new potential weapon for its ceaseless patent wars. The company was reportedly reissued a patent it originally obtained in 1998 that gives it relatively broad control over location-based services.

If Apple were to enforce its patent holding, it could possibly demand that social networks such as Facebook and FourSquare -- in which users can "check in" at different locations -- pay up or face a courtroom. Since location-based services are becoming more popular in the mobile industry, for instance, Apple could have a great deal of leverage with this patent. For the time being, though, Apple hasn't made any legal moves that suggest it will start enforcing it.

The company also received a patent that would use a turnable shock mount to prevent broken glass on cover screens and a buffed up version of Gorilla Glass. The product is the work of Apple engineers, but it probably won't have the same far-reaching power as the location-based patent or some of the patents over which Apple is currently battling Samsung.

"I do not see a shock mount as the be-all, end-all solution to cracked glass. There are many other possible solutions, not the least of which are laminates or films. This is much less significant than the location-based services patent," Adam L.K. Philipp, founder of Aeon Law, told MacNewsWorld.


Rachelle Dragani is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn, NY. She enjoys staying on top of e-commerce deals, reporting on what new gadget is coming your way, and keeping tabs on anyone trying to hack into your info. Feel free to e-mail her at rachelle.dragani@newsroom.ectnews.com.


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