PC Market Share - What is a PC these days?

craig1410

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 22, 2007
1,123
896
Scotland
Hi,

Just reading the article about mobile computer market share and it raises the interesting question of what IS a personal computer these days?

If we define it as anything with a CPU then it would be too wide ranging and would include almost everything electronic and electrical. So do we define it based on what you can do with it instead? Something like this:
  • Email
  • Web browsing
  • Create documents
  • Show pictures
  • Run apps
  • Play music
  • Play movies

You can do all of this on pretty much any recent smartphone and iPod touch never mind the iPad. Does a personal computer require a hardware keyboard or is a virtual keyboard sufficient?

I would be very interested to hear some discussion on the true definition of a Personal Computer. If you were a doorman at the "PC Club", on what basis would you decide who could come into the club? :confused:

Regards,
Craig.
 

R94N

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2010
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UK
God, that's getting harder and harder to define now. I think it's anything with onboard storage. I know that's a bit vague but I'm not sure.
 

tunerX

Suspended
Nov 5, 2009
355
839
Personal computer is for personal use... That is about it.

Apple twisted the meaning to mean a computer with MS on it and has those commercials to reflect their opinion that a Mac and a PC are different. By definition a Mac is a PC.

You need to break down the different types of PCs.

Tablet PC
Desktop PC
Notebook PC

The list goes on and on.
 

R94N

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2010
2,095
1
UK
Personal computer is for personal use... That is about it.

Apple twisted the meaning to mean a computer with MS on it and has those commercials to reflect their opinion that a Mac and a PC are different. By definition a Mac is a PC.
Yeah, exactly. A Mac is not different to a PC in that they're both PCs anyway. I guess Apple needed to show the difference in the ads somehow and that's how they did it.
 

craig1410

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 22, 2007
1,123
896
Scotland
Yeah, exactly. A Mac is not different to a PC in that they're both PCs anyway. I guess Apple needed to show the difference in the ads somehow and that's how they did it.
Most people know that PC stands for Personal Computer but PC has also been taken to mean a Windows PC, probably because to most people, historically speaking, that was the only type of Personal Computer which they knew to exist! :)

I think we have already reached a point where it doesn't matter so much which OS a Personal Computer is running, what matters is what it is capable of. It also largely doesn't matter what form factor it takes in my opinion. Computing has become so mature, and abstract, that we really don't need to know what is under the skin (most of us anyway) we just need to know how to use it.

So, maybe it's time that market share stats (if these stats even mean anything anymore) recognise that PC's are much more than just traditional Laptops and Desktops and encompass various manufacturer's takes on iPods, iPhones, iPads, games consoles, TV set top boxes as well and who knows what form factors lie ahead.

I do think that some sort of standard definition needs to be draughted though ti ensure that we don't start getting silly and including our toasters and hair straighteners although maybe our smart fridge or smart oven might give us pause for thought these days!

Thanks for your thoughts, keep them coming!
Craig.
:)
 

R94N

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2010
2,095
1
UK
Most people know that PC stands for Personal Computer but PC has also been taken to mean a Windows PC, probably because to most people, historically speaking, that was the only type of Personal Computer which they knew to exist! :)
Ha, yeah! So true.

I do think that some sort of standard definition needs to be draughted though ti ensure that we don't start getting silly and including our toasters and hair straighteners although maybe our smart fridge or smart oven might give us pause for thought these days!
Yeah, I mean just look at cars now. There's computers in there, in the different safety systems. We've got GPS, cruise control, and all that.
 

craig1410

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 22, 2007
1,123
896
Scotland
Here is my first attempt at defining a Personal Computer (PC):

Must have the following features:
  1. Display (Integrated or separate)
  2. Keyboard (Physical or Virtual)
  3. CPU
  4. Storage (Solid State or HDD)
  5. Connectivity (Any form of Wireless or cable)

Must be able to do the following:
  1. Browse Internet (not WAP)
  2. Email
  3. View Photos
  4. Play Music
  5. Play Video
  6. View Documents (eg. Letters, Spreadsheets, Reports)
  7. Create & Edit Documents (As above)
  8. Run Applications
  9. Add New Locally Stored Applications (See note below)

Note: I think it is crucial to be able to add applications of your own choosing to your "Personal" computer in order to personalise it. However, one could argue that certain websites and web apps can provide this without installing the app on the computer itself. Is a web application accessed via a bookmark in your browser the same as a locally stored app? What about if you are offline? I think the ability to install locally stored applications is a requirement of a PC. What do you think?

Anyone disagree with any of the above or have I missed anything important?

Craig.
 

aethelbert

macrumors 601
Jun 1, 2007
4,288
0
Chicago, IL, USA
Anyone disagree with any of the above or have I missed anything important?
While I agree with everything that you listed, I'd also add that it should be able to function independently of any other device defined as a PC. This would ideally encompass OTA software updates and the like as well as initial setup.
 

craig1410

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 22, 2007
1,123
896
Scotland
While I agree with everything that you listed, I'd also add that it should be able to function independently of any other device defined as a PC. This would ideally encompass OTA software updates and the like as well as initial setup.
Trying to rule out all the Apple iPods, iPhones and iPads by any chance? :p

I hear what you're saying but many households will already own a traditional PC capable of setting up one of these devices. Failing that, do Apple not offer the option of setting your device up for you at their retails stores?

One thing I would say is that, the iTunes sync model does radically simplify setup of a new device when compared to a Windows or Linux (and to a lesser extent Mac OS) setup process.

More food for thought though, thanks!
 

aethelbert

macrumors 601
Jun 1, 2007
4,288
0
Chicago, IL, USA
Trying to rule out all the Apple iPods, iPhones and iPads by any chance? :p

I hear what you're saying but many households will already own a traditional PC capable of setting up one of these devices. Failing that, do Apple not offer the option of setting your device up for you at their retails stores?
It's not only Apple's stuff that I feel is limited, but also devices from some other manufacturers as well.

What if I want to update the software? If an iPad (or anything else that doesn't support OTA updating) is my personal computer, driving a potentially long distance to get the new firmware features may be a bit excessive. Same goes for software resetting: unfortunately phones, PDAs, etc don't really have similar functions yet (optical, USB, etc) that can allow for us to reset the system after a fatal crash of some sort. This applies to Apple, Palm, HTC, etc. Unfortunately there's nothing similar to the hard reset from the days of Palm OS in most current devices.

If the trend of personal computing is truly heading towards more mobile methods, there's a lot that will need to be done to remove the requirement of a full featured computer on the other end. The device itself must be able to function on its own, in all circumstances.
 

craig1410

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 22, 2007
1,123
896
Scotland
It's not only Apple's stuff that I feel is limited, but also devices from some other manufacturers as well.

What if I want to update the software? If an iPad (or anything else that doesn't support OTA updating) is my personal computer, driving a potentially long distance to get the new firmware features may be a bit excessive. Same goes for software resetting: unfortunately phones, PDAs, etc don't really have similar functions yet (optical, USB, etc) that can allow for us to reset the system after a fatal crash of some sort. This applies to Apple, Palm, HTC, etc. Unfortunately there's nothing similar to the hard reset from the days of Palm OS in most current devices.

If the trend of personal computing is truly heading towards more mobile methods, there's a lot that will need to be done to remove the requirement of a full featured computer on the other end. The device itself must be able to function on its own, in all circumstances.
I agree to an extent although I have never taken on a reinstall of my Windows or Mac OS while away from home. You can also do OTA updates of the applications no problem, it is only the core OS which requires connection to a traditional PC. Also, how about the Macbook Air? Would you consider it to be less than a PC just because it has no optical drive?

Should the OS on iPod/Pad/Phones maybe be thought of more like the BIOS on a traditional PC in as much as it is stored in protected, non volatile memory and you can do a reset at any time? This maybe takes away the most common requirement to reinstall the OS. What do you think?
 

aethelbert

macrumors 601
Jun 1, 2007
4,288
0
Chicago, IL, USA
I agree to an extent although I have never taken on a reinstall of my Windows or Mac OS while away from home. You can also do OTA updates of the applications no problem, it is only the core OS which requires connection to a traditional PC. Also, how about the Macbook Air? Would you consider it to be less than a PC just because it has no optical drive?
Well the air can certainly run an install off of a USB drive, or an external optical disk. I wouldn't say that it's less of a computer; it just accepts media differently.

OTA firmware updates are certainly possible, and have been implemented on WebOS and Android for quite a while. Frankly, I'm surprised that we're at iPhone OS 4 lacking this feature in 2010. It may be something to do with how the OS is written to install updates, though; firmware update packages on other platforms are significantly smaller.

Should the OS on iPod/Pad/Phones maybe be thought of more like the BIOS on a traditional PC in as much as it is stored in protected, non volatile memory and you can do a reset at any time? This maybe takes away the most common requirement to reinstall the OS. What do you think?
Certainly a step towards a device being able to reset itself without the need of another system is a step in the right direction.
 

PerfSeeker

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2010
545
0
Personal computer is for personal use... That is about it.

Apple twisted the meaning to mean a computer with MS on it and has those commercials to reflect their opinion that a Mac and a PC are different. By definition a Mac is a PC.

You need to break down the different types of PCs.

Tablet PC
Desktop PC
Notebook PC

The list goes on and on.
This. It's 3 different markets and should be counted up like that. Also the whole Mac vs PC thing is about OS/X vs Windows and Apple's superior industrial design to HP & Dell. Also one should be able to install an app NOT through an special app-store but from anywhere on the internet.
 

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