Are tablets PCs?

“PC shipments up 18% in Q4…”

That’s news to most of us. Gartner and IDC reported last month PC sales were down 10% in 2013. The above headline is from Canalys, which strangely includes tablets in its PC stats. Excluding tablets, PC shipments were down 7% in Q4.

The research firm says tablets, which surged 65% during the period, accounted for almost 50% of the 158 million “PCs” shipped in Q4.

With tablets included, four of the top five makers saw shipments increase – with only HP facing a decline. Apple had a 19.5% market share of the expanded category while Lenovo was second with a 12% share, followed closely by Samsung with an 11% share.

It’s seems a stretch to classify Apple and Samsung as “PC” makers since tablets accounted for more than 80% of their shipments.

Canalys’ definition of a PC offers a bit of clarity: “a computing device designed to be operated by an individual and positioned to serve a broad range of purposes, achieved by running third-party applications, some of which can work independently of a network connection. When designed to be portable, it must be able to function without mains power and have a built-in diagonal display size of at least 7 inches.”

The definition is so broad that phablets and smartphones could also fit into that category.

Considering any device with a 7-inch display or larger a PC blurs the category. I guess with phablets starting at 6.9 inches and categorized as smartphones, Canalys’ logic is to group anything larger together with PCs.

But I still don’t see a lot of PCs being replaced by tablets (most people now have three devices – phone, tablet and notebook), so they should be a separate category, not lumped together with PCs.

No matter how you categorize them, even the sizzling tablet sector can’t rescue the flagged PC industry.