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Apple may not have impressed Wall Street with its holiday quarter, but it did reach a major [symbolic] milestone. During the 3-month period, the Cupertino company sold more Macs, iPhones, iPads and iPod touches than the total number of Windows computers combined.

According to data gathered by analyst Benedict Evans, this is the first time Apple has surpassed the PC market in hardware sales. Now this doesn’t include Windows Phone. If you add that in, the two are more or less exactly equal, though Apple still wins in average selling price…

Here’s a breakdown of hardware sales by make:

chart pc vs apple

As you can imagine, Evans’ post garnered mixed feedback—he eventually had to close the comments. Some people thought his comparison of all Apple devices to Windows PCs was unfair, but I think he makes a pretty good point regarding the shift in the meaning of ‘computer.’

Mobile is becoming a personal computing market. And it’s a much, much bigger personal computing environment that PCs. So much bigger that even the ‘niche’ high-end player in mobile, Apple, is selling more than the totality of the old market, PCs.

There are no arbitrary limitations – I’ve defined it as ‘personal computing devices’. A PC, tablet or smartphone fit that. A games console, Apple TV or data-centre server do not.”

What’s really interesting to me is that Apple saw this move to mobile coming. It’s always maintained the belief that the tablet market would be larger than the PC market some day, and this is the first step towards that happening. A lot of people just don’t need PCs anymore.

On the flip side, Microsoft seemingly didn’t see this coming—or if it did, it didn’t react adequately or quickly enough—and because of that, it’s had to play catchup these last 4-5 years.

Thoughts?