Time to replace the P in PC?

Ten years from today if someone asked the question – ‘what is a PC’ – don’t be surprised if you get some very different answers to the one that you had currently in mind. Now I don’t mean that the PC itself is changing but rather other forces are forcing a transformation

An amazing data point that surfaced last month was that Apple took 3rd place in PC shipments for the 4th quarter of 2010, when the ipad was also included. For more on this industry changing metric, check this link pointing to recent data from research firm Canalys.

As seen, Apple would not even be considered in 2009 when it included at a paltry 3.4 Mil in shipments compared to Q4 2010 at 11.5 Mil. Tremendous achievement for Apple, but that is really beside the point.

Why cannot one ask the following?

1) Is the ‘PC’ segment still relevant- does PC not represent the computing category developed solely by Microsoft+Intel or is it a general all purpose computing category?

2) Is the ipad a PC?- Mac fans will probably throw up at this thought! To speak nothing about the Mac vs PC ads.

3) Does a typical PC need to be more like an ipad?- Now Mac fans will laugh..

4) Does PC includes Desktops, Notebooks, Netbooks and Tablets. If yes then why keep the ipad out.

5) Can you do everything with the PC that you can do with the ipad?

6) Can the ipad do things that cannot be done on the PC?

7) What will be the category for ipad me-too devices led by Android and the upcoming Playbook from RIM apart from the 50+ devices that debuted last month in CES?

Ok techies will have a lot to say especially to #5 and #6. But let’s also consider that practical impact of this ranking.

From a marketing standpoint has the PC segment itself transformed to something else? – ie Most consumers have at least one PC at home/ office. Are they looking to really buy another PC or are they looking to buy a tablet/ipad like device?

My sense is the latter. The impact of convenience with mobility is really powering this new trend. Will this entire category become primarily overshadowed by ipad like devices relegating real PC’s to some obscure minority?

So what shall we call the PC now. Of course it cannot be the Personal Computer. Can it be the Portable Computer. Or will it eventually become ‘Pad Computer’!

What did version 2 of the first PC do to the industry? Then what would ipad 2 and 3 do? Now that would be a 360 degree industry changer!