Is runaway iPad adoption driving Mac sales?

Second-quarter reports show the Mac making big gains over Windows-based PCs; scorching iPad sales haven't hurt

I'm seeing iPads everywhere. Some corporate IT departments try to swat them -- reminiscent of early efforts to ban the Apple II and the IBM PC -- but the iPad is marching in, bringing with it more corporate Macs and iPhones.

While many analysts predicted that the iPad would eat into Mac sales, the reverse happened: iPad sales have apparently had a halo effect.

[ iPads are set to do business: See Must-have iPad apps for business professionals in the Infoworld Killer Apps blog. | Check out the full review of the iPad by InfoWorld's Paul Venezia. ]

Apple's latest quarterly report shows an increase in Mac sales to 3.47 million units between April 1 and June 30 -- the most Macs ever. Using Gartner's second-quarter report of worldwide PC shipments as an estimated base figure, a whopping 4.2 percent of all PCs sold worldwide in the second quarter were Macs. Gartner's own figures estimate that the Mac accounted for an astonishing 9.8 percent of all PCs sold in the United States last quarter.

What I'm seeing at the corporate level, from my admittedly subjective perspective, is that more iPads in business begets more Macs. This halo effect might be more accurately termed a "drag-them-kicking-and-screaming effect." Many corporate IT departments have made Mac purchases more difficult than PC purchases. Many plausible arguments accompanied the restriction -- they still do.

Then the iPhone hit. Eventually, companies that had standardized on the BlackBerry were forced to compromise, marking another beachead for the Apple invasion.

Now, with the iPad selling more than 3 million units in 80 days, they're all over the corporate landscape. The third battle line has been drawn, and this time employees aren't overly concerned about corporate guidelines: When the boss shows off her shiny new iPad, it's hard for IT folks to bluster about security and standards.

All of this bodes well for further proliferation of Macs in the workplace. Apple predicts total Q3 2010 sales will hit $18 billion -- and it has a reputation for lowballing sales projections. A month ago, Apple analyst Andy Zaky posted a massive sales projection for Apple in his Bullish Cross blog. Andy projected $18.9 billion for Q3 sales. Here's the punchline: Andy's projection pegs Mac unit sales increasing by 15 percent from quarter to quarter. If that projection proves true, we may well see the Mac capture more than 10 percent of the PC market in 3Q 2010.

Chances are good that -- if it hasn't already arrived -- a Mac is coming to a corporate desktop near you.

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