Can Apple’s iPad reshape the mobile PC market?

Apple’s wildly popular iPad currently dominates the tablet space. But is the device poised to reshape the rapidly evolving mobile PC market?

True, Apple’s mobile PC devices haven’t (traditionally) managed to gain significant market traction.

For example, the Cupertino-based company sold 7.6 million mobile PCs in 2009 and ranked #7 in the world with 4.4% share, well behind HP, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo and ASUS. 

So, compared to companies such as HP (20% market share), Acer (18%) and Dell (12%), Apple was not ranked a “big” mobile PC brand in 2009.

However, Anita Huang and David Hsieh of DisplaySearch believe that the iPad has the potential to significantly alter the current mobile PC paradigm.

“Apple could not only surpass ASUS, Toshiba and Lenovo by becoming a top 5 mobile PC brand – it could also threaten Dell’s #3 position. [Remember], the iPad reached more than 10 million shipments in its first year and [could very well] reshape competitiveness in the PC industry,” the two explained.

“Including the iPad, Apple’s total mobile PC shipment will hit 22 million, up 176% Y/Y, which helps Apple to surpass ASUS, Lenovo and Toshiba. In other words, Apple has been hovering between positions #6 and #8 in mobile PC for many years, but one single product makes it rocket to #4.”

According to Huang and Hsieh, the iPad’s impressive success can be attributed to a number of factors, including an elegant look, seamless touch screen, apps, content and services. 

“[Clearly], if a new slate PC wants to be successful, it has to strengthen its multi-media functionality, with e-books, mobile TV, music and, probably most important of all, games.

“[Yes], many slate PCs will be introduced in late 2010 and early 2011, but it will be difficult for any of them to challenge the iPad’s market position in the next few quarters.”

Nevertheless, DisplaySearch projects that Google’s Android is “most likely” to compete with Apple iOS – rather than Windows, webOS, MeeGo and QNX (RIM).

“[Of course], the iPad will probably make it difficult for the mini-note to survive, as the [device] is already cannibalizing the mini-note market,” they added.