When I sit in a chair and I have some hardware on a table or desk in front of me I call it a desktop. If I can fold it up and carry it away, I call it a notebook. Now we have tablets and smart-phones that work like small tablets. The tablets look like big smart-phones. The question of what a PC is is almost vague in this environment. If a person touches it and it computes, it’s probably a PC.
NetApplications and others are dancing on the head of a pin with their web stats counting or not counting mobile PCs in their stats. What are they going to do when ARM invades the desktop and people run that other OS and everything else on it? What are they going to do when a thin client running GNU/Linux accesses a server and the application on the server visits the site? We have millions of thin clients sold each year and many millions are in use. That number is increasing rapidly as virtual desktops multiply.
NetworkWorld has an article discussing all this complexity and that other OS is in danger of sliding below 90% share of seats. I have news for them. That happened years ago. NetApplications and StatCounter obviously do not have an unbiased sample of the universe. You can tell that by the huge share MacOS gets from them when SEC filings and press releases from IDC show a much smaller share.
Some folks are using a smart-phone as their desktop PC. They hook up a giant monitor, keyboard and mouse and it does the job, very well. Some do not even have a desktop PC and do everything with a smart-phone. Smart-phones are very competitive with desktops today and that will continue as the prices drop to ~$100. The ramp in production and players means that will happen this year. The low cost and high performance of ARM means this technology will displace the ATXish desktop in part. Many will still want a device that is difficult to carry away but many look at mobility as a huge plus.
These are real changes in IT, not just hype. IDC found 346 million PCs were shipped in 2010. That number was held back by the millions of smart-thingies and tablets sold in 2010. That effect should be even larger in 2011 as many more products come on stream in a wide variety. US consumption of PCs dropped to 21.7% of global production.
3 of 5 sources in Wikipedia show less than 90% share for that other OS recently. That share will continue to drop in 2011 especially when the desktop is invaded by GNU/Linux on ARM.