iPad Helped Apple Claim HP's Spot as Top Global PC Maker: Canalys

Apple was the world's best-selling PC maker during the fourth quarter, says Canalys. The firm believes tablet sales should be included, leaving HP little chance for a comeback.

Apple is the world's No. 1 PC maker, thanks in large part to the skyrocketing success of the iPad, according to research firm Canalys.

Canalys has led the push to include tablet sales in PC totals. With tablets included, 120 million PCs shipped during the fourth quarter of 2011, up 16 percent from the same period in 2010. Leave out the tablets, and the market instead declined 0.4 percent.

By Canalys' telling, tablets accounted for 22 percent of total PC shipments during the quarter.

Apple shipped 15 million iPads and 5 million Macs for a 17 percent share of the market, followed by Hewlett-Packard, which is much more used to seeing its name at the top of the list. However, with the demise of the HP TouchPad tablet, which never sold well to begin with, HP-in tallies such as Canalys'-will have to get comfortable in the backseat.

"HP is pursuing a Windows strategy for its pad portfolio, producing enterprise-focused products, such as the recently launched Slate 2, until the launch of Windows 8," Canalys analyst Tim Coulling said in a statement. "However, questions remain over Microsoft's entry into the consumer pad space. While early demonstrations of the Window 8 operating system seem promising, Microsoft must focus its efforts on creating an intuitive user experience that is far less resource-intensive."

Behind HP, in the No. 3 spot, was Lenovo, followed by Dell and Acer.

Apple, up 6 points year-on-year, and Lenovo, up 2 points, were the only top-five vendors to grow their market share.

According to Coulling, Lenovo was helped by its acquisition of Medion, in Germany, which doubled shipments in Western Europe during the second half of the year, and by its decision to use Android in enterprise-geared tablets-or pads, as Canalys refers to them-which "gives it a better opportunity than HP to continue gaining market share."

No. 5 Acer, which grabbed a foothold in the netbook market, has seen shares fall as tablets have overtaken netbook interest. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, however, Acer introduced its S5 Ultrabook, in a play at reviving consumer interest in notebooks.

"We expect Ultrabook volumes to see limited adoption through the first half of 2012, before finally gaining momentum later in the year as price points decline and Intel launches a new line of processors and embarks on an aggressive marketing campaign," Canalys Research analyst Michael Kauh said in a statement. "In the short term, though, vendors will experience more pressure in the netbook and notebook segments, especially with Apple's annual iPad refresh approaching."

Again, with tablets included, all global markets enjoyed year-on-year growth during the quarter. Leaving them out, shipments in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa all fell. Partly to blame were floods in Thailand, which made some critical parts hard to come by, though a fuller impact of the disaster is more likely to be felt in the first half of 2012, said the report.

So, too, will the effects of not capitalizing on the "consumerization of IT" trend.

"This year will be a pivotal year for those vendors that were slow to launch pads," said Coulling. "It is not just the product that they need to get right; business models are equally important-driving revenues from content delivery can help vendors reach lower price points in a market that is incredibly price-sensitive."