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iPad propels Apple into top-three PC vendor placement

Industry has got to tally tablets, insists researcher

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Apple is the third largest computer maker in the world... if you include the iPad in its sales tally.

So shows Q4 2010 numbers from market watcher Canalys, which put the Mac maker behind HP and Acer with a market share of 10.8 per cent. That's the same as Dell, though a closer look at the figures show Apple shipped 11.5m units to Dell's 11.4m.

HP took 17.7 per cent of the market, Acer 12.8 per cent, according to Canalys - they shipped 18.7m and 13.6m machines, respectively. Lenovo took fifth place with a market share of 9.1 per cent - 9.6m units worth.

All of the major vendors show relatively minor market share fluctuations when Q4 2010 is compared to Q4 2009. Apple is the exception: its share jumped from 3.8 per cent, on the back of shipments of 3.4m Macs.

That makes for a year-on-year increase of 241 per cent.

Apple said last week that it shipped 4.13m Macs in Q4 2010 - equivalent to the first quarter of its 2011 financial year - so that's Mac sales up 21.5 per cent. The remaining Q4 2010 shipments are 7.4m iPads.

Should they be counted? The must, said Canalys, because they're a key product category. It urged vendors to "accept new market realities, by recognising [tablets] as an integral new component of the overall PC landscape.

"Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync," said Canalys Senior Analyst Daryl Chiam.

"With screen sizes of seven inches or above, ample processing power, and a growing number of applications, pads offer a computing experience comparable to netbooks. They compete for the same customers and will happily co-exist. As with smart phones, some users will require a physical keyboard, while others will do without."

The question is, will Apple be pushed back again when HP, Acer, Dell and co. release their tablets? ®

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