The triumph of ‘good enough’ computing

April 14, 2011, 12:03 AM UTC

The global PC market shrank 3.2% year over year in Q1 2011 as iPad sales surged

iPad demand exceeding supply in NYC. Photo: Computerworld

It’s a pity IDC doesn’t include tablets in its quarterly surveys of computer shipments. If it did, the inflection point in the first quarter of 2011 would be even clearer.

[UPDATE: Asymco’s Horace Dediu has done us the favor of drawing an extraordinary graph that includes the iPad. It looks like a giraffe. Click here.]

IDC had expected an anemic 1.5% growth in global PC shipments year over year. What it found instead in the survey released Wednesday was a 3.2% decline, even as demand for tablet computers — or rather, Apple’s (AAPL) iPad — soared.

“Long-term success will depend on hardware manufacturers being able to articulate a message that is beyond simple hardware specifications,” wrote IDC senior researcher Jay Chou, sounding a little like Steve Jobs. “‘Good-enough computing’ has become a firm reality, exemplified first by Mini Notebooks and now Media Tablets.”

Well, not so much those mini notebooks anymore. Acer’s global market share shrank 15.8% last quarter, according to IDC, as the market for its netbooks collapsed and its tablets failed to take off. Dell (DELL) and HP (HPQ) also disappointed. Of the major PC manufacturers, only Lenovo, Toshiba and Apple grew in the quarter. In the U.S. market, a “surging” Apple overtook Acer to take the No. 4 spot. Even without the iPad.

Below: IDC’s global and U.S. market shares for Q1 2011

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]