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« Modelling Nokia X Scenarios and the Level of Desperation it Reveals | Main | Q1 Apple Results: iPhone market share down to 15% - plus some other bloodbath news »

February 27, 2014



Dear Tomi,

This table seems to have errors in the calculation of the percentage.

Smartphones . . . . . . 990 M . . 57%
Traditional PCs . . . . 316 M . . 29%
Tablet PCs . . . . . . . 186 M . . 14%
Total Computers . . 1,492 M



Right, it looks like the 2012 percentages got copied over to 2013


How about smart TVs? Those should be counted as computers as well.


Tomi: Does the 290M for Windows include all current variants (Windows, Windows Phone and Windows RT)?


Blackberry is 2% in the OS list, but does not appear in the top 10, with Coolpad at nr. 10 with 2%. Am I right in deducing from this that those 2% for Blackberry OS result from rounding up its OS share (from 1.something to 2%)?

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi gang thanks for comments

Aviezer - good catch, yes that is typo. As eduardom spotted the percentages were accidentally left to be from last year. The absolute numbers are correct. I've corrected it now

eduardom - well spotted

jj - it remains to be seen if smart TVs will be considered computers (mostly depends if a real 'apps' environment evolves for them. That call is not mine, we need to see how the IT industry itself reacts to them. If all we do with connected TVs is surf the internet, then most likely they won't be included. Obviously their shipment numbers are currently too small to register in the big picture.

DarwinPhish - yep. all variants of Windows

E - You're correct. Blackberry only shipped 23 million smartphones in 2013 plus a smattering of tablets so their market share to one decimal point is 1.6% and I've rounded it up to 2%.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Timo M

In 2005 I told my friend, after having a sudden revelation, that the future of computing has been revealed to me. I showed him a Nokia smartphone and said that this is what computers are going to be like in the future. Smartphones are computers are smartphones.

He stared at me blankly...

More seriously: this is where I fully ride the Tomi wagon. I have never made any distinction between computers and smartphones which is why I found the Windows Phone such a miserable failure. MS had designed it as if it was something called a "smartphone" and something completely other than a computer. Early on Symbian did it all computer-like and, well, the rest can be read here. Computer Android rules the world.

But now! Behold! The last news from WP8.1 update is spectacular!

Microsoft has learned the lesson. The next version will turn WP to a computer.

Is it too late?

It is too late.


@Timo M

> But now! Behold! The last news from WP8.1 update is spectacular!
> Microsoft has learned the lesson. The next version will turn WP to a computer.

I like Microsoft's plan of convergence.

But I see one big problem: Windows Phone won't be able to run native (x86_64) Windows applications.

This little detail creates all sort of confusion for end users: they buy a device that won't be able to execute certain applications. So (in their heads) that's not a real computer.

Perhaps they are being mislead by the name "Windows".

Android doesn't have this problem, since people don't expect to run Windows applications in it. If they can connect their smartphones or tablets to a big screen, that's a bonus. With "Windows", that's the minimum that users expect -- and Microsoft still can't offer the full experience.


"I don't think it's ALL that relevant to lump phones in with desktop computers."

It actually makes sense in a variety of ways:

All traditional activities performed on a desktop can be -- and are -- carried out on smartphones and tablets alike: browsing, sending and receiving e-mails, video-conferencing, playing games, ERP front-end, perusing and editing office documents, recording, editing and playing videos, etc.

In addition, smartphones are increasingly used where traditionally computers were put into action: laboratory data recording devices, monitoring devices (e.g. camera security), process control (e.g. robotics), etc.

There is one big exception: programming -- which is done neither with smartphones, nor on tablets, thus remaining the province of laptop/desktop computers.

Furthermore, the Motorola Atrix and Acer Extend have demonstrated that the frontier between a PC and a smartphone is no longer watertight.

From a functional perspective, including smartphones into a general computing category therefore makes sense.

"It's not really competition."

But of course it is! People acquire the devices that enable them to fulfill their computing and communication needs, taking into account technical and economic constraints. If desktops do not satisfy those constraints, then something else will do.

"You could just as easily add gaming systems [...] smart tv's [...] cars [...] Smart Watches and other wearables"

Can you achieve the computing and communication tasks listed above? No, since these are special-purpose devices, even if they partly rely upon similar hardware as tablets/PC/phones.



> It makes for interesting posts, but I don't think it's ALL that relevant to lump phones in
> with desktop computers... It's not really competition.

That's a very good point.

Should we only aggregate products because they don't compete directly?

For instance: can't we aggregate apples and oranges? Yes, we can: that's called "fruits".

We can even aggregate everything a country produces (from agriculture to computers) and call it GNP -- and, thus, compare nations.

So... can't we aggregate smartphones, tablets and computers and call them "computing devices"? Yes we can. (Perhaps that's better than "computers").

If we add TVs and games to the mix, we can talk about "connected devices" or "multimedia devices".


In the news: don't count Tizen dead yet?

Engadget: Hands-on with Samsung's vastly improved Tizen OS

Samsung's device lineup may still be heavily dominated by Android, but change is in the air. Tizen, the open-source OS it jointly develops with Intel, powers the company's three new Gear wearables, and smartphones are coming later this year.

Ionescu Paul

Maybe it would be worth mentioning that Android is based on Linux. No wonder that always MS has seen Linux as a rival and has tried to kill it since more than 10 years ago (see SCO vs IBM here ).


The terminology is really confusing.

The Xbox can be considered a computer, too. Very limited, but much more usable than a 1970's Heathkit.

I'm wondering about whether different GNU/Linux distributions count together, and whether it includes servers and VMs, but I'm pretty sure that's fewer than the 23 million needed to reach Blackberry. For example, the Munich city government switched to GNU/Linux, and it was highly publicized, but it was only about 15,000 total installed computers.

Also, cloud VM unit market share seems different than normal PC market share. You can deploy, use, and decommission a cloud VM in less than an hour, and redeploy it again the next day. This cloud VM could be running, along with many other VMs, on an anonymous server in a giant data center filled with identical servers. The other VMs could be running different operating systems, and the host system could be Linux or VMware or several others. So, this server is 1 unit of Linux, or 5 units of Linux and 5 units of Windows, or 100 partial-units of Linux, or simply not counted.

John Fro

Why don't cable companies sell "app space" through an "app store" model on their TV set top boxes? These things are computers, and I could see people playing games and other stuff on them through their TV's. The only issue would be the need for an interface, but that could be an upsellable remote too.


@Ionescu Paul

Yes, and both android and apple's os's run on open-source unix clones with custom touch gui's and optimized for ARM.

I guess the reason Microsoft has been a failure on phones and tablets is they aren't following that proven path to success.


"ALL of the companies on the list are either American, South Korean, Chinese or Japanese."

But the CPU design (ARM) and the machinery (e.g., ASML) to make them is European. The OS is coded all over the world. So, we have come to the conclusion that all the Computational devices in the list are made by humans, and humans only.


"The Xbox can be considered a computer, too. Very limited, but much more usable than a 1970's Heathkit."

You have to draw a boundary somewhere. And if the industry puts the boundaries at phones tablets and "conventional" personal computers, then that is it.

There is some logic behind it.

At my home the replacement of desktops and laptops was delayed indefinitely because most tasks that would require a replacement were done on phones and tablets. The latest sales numbers show this is rather common. I can already link up my tablet to a big screen and keyboard and do real work. The only thing I really need a laptop for is for programming. But in a few years I think I can do that on my phone with the same screen and keyboard I use now.



"One key observation on your list: Not a single European company. Not one!!!"

Maybe that's because European PC sellers tend to operate more locally, thus ending up in the 'others' segment.
It doesn't tell much where stuff comes from but it tells a lot about the structure of different markets.

US and South Korea have a clear preference for larger corporations than Europe.

In the end most of the hardware is produced in China anyway.



I'm not trying to give a definitive answer, but to question wether we should count PCs and tablets together.

Microsoft used to think that, yes, "tablets are PCs" (that's what Steve Ballmer said at D8 / 2010).

I always believed that there was one key difference between PCs and tablets: PCs are used to create content, and tablets to consume.

That's, perhaps, the problem with Microsoft's approach: they tried to unify the interface of two devices that serve different purposes. As Tim Cook said in 2012, "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user".

On the other hand -- it is possible that in a 5-10 years timeframe all tablets and smartphones will be able to be "docked" to external keyboards, monitors and mouse; and, thus, work as regular PCs.

If that happens, and I think it will, counting them together will be absolutely normal.



On the other hand -- it is possible that in a 5-10 years timeframe all tablets and smartphones will be able to be "docked" to external keyboards, monitors and mouse; and, thus, work as regular PCs. If that happens, and I think it will, counting them together will be absolutely normal."

Agreed. From a technical perspective this would already be doable - if it weren't for the crippled smartphone OSs that are ill suited for content creation.

I think this is Microsoft's last chance to stay relevant. If they manage to release a phone that can be run as a fully featured desktop PC they still might have a chance. And for this scenario I think they have the best offering at the moment, although it'd be foolish to count out Apple and Google.

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