While the company has profited from its early lead in both tablets and light-thin notebooks -- the former with the iPad, the latter with the MacBook Air line -- it will face competition from Windows-based ultrabooks and tablets, particularly after the release of Windows 8.
"That's one of the key questions," Bartels admitted. "Apple has been in a very good position with the iPad and MacBook Air, and they've given them a lot of advantages, but Microsoft [and OEMs] will come up with alternatives."
And when that happens, when ultrabooks -- and to a lesser extent, Windows 8 tablets -- become ubiquitous, Apple could lose its edge.
"Assuming Microsoft gets its act together, it will be a much more competitive landscape -- likely in 2013, not this year -- for tablets and ultrabooks," said Bartels. "If it turns out to be a three-way battle in tablets, with Apple, Google's Android, and Microsoft's Windows 8, for instance, IT departments will feel a lot more comfortable with Microsoft than with Android. Microsoft could quickly go to No. 2."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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