With Tablets Included, PC Market Grows 19.2%: Canalys

Apple's iPad and its peers should be counted among worldwide PC sales, says Canalys. By its count, the PC market grew 19.2 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

Should tablets such as Apple's iPad be included in the mix when talking about the worldwide PC market? Research firm Canalys thinks so, and thanks to the inclusion of tablets, the PC market is looking robust, as is Apple's place in it.

With strong holiday iPad sales, Apple captured the worldwide PC market's No. 3 position during the fourth quarter of 2010, analyst firm Canalys announced Jan. 26. Unlike firms Gartner and IDC-by whose calculations Apple didn't even make the global top five-Canalys includes media tablets in its PC rankings, calling them an "integral new component of the overall PC landscape."

Vendors, Canalys analyst Daryl Chiam said in the report, should realize that tablets are part of the future. By not counting the tablets, they remain "stuck in the past."

"Any argument that a [tablet] is not a PC is simply out of sync," Chiam said in a statement. "With screen sizes of 7 inches or above, ample processing power and a growing number of applications, [tablets] offer a computing experience comparable to netbooks. They compete for the same customers and will happily coexist. As with smartphones, some users will require a physical keyboard, while others will do without."Chiam added that each new product category creates a shift in market shares, and Apple is now benefitting from the media tablet market it created, just as Acer, Samsung and Asus previously benefitted from the netbook market they encouraged.Over the holidays, tablets increased consumers' options, says the report. And while they don't appeal to all user groups - particularly low-income households and first-time buyers - they're proving to be "extremely popular."By the firm's count, Apple shipped 11.5 million units during the quarter - compared to 3.4 million a year earlier - for 10.8 percent market share. Second-ranking Acer shipped 11.5 million units, for 12.8 percent market share, while top-ranking Hewlett-Packard shipped 18.7 million units to capture 17.7 percent of the market.If any vendor is inclined to cry foul at Canalys' tablets-included style of ranking, it's Dell. By Canalys' count, Dell placed fourth worldwide, shipping 11.4 million units and tying Apple for 10.8 percent market share. By Gartner's preliminary count, however, Dell ranked third, with shipments of 10.8 million units (followed by Lenovo and Toshiba, respectively), while IDC gave Dell second place, on shipments of 11.1 million units, which bested Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba, respectively.Canalys' inclusion of media tablets in its tally also led it to a sunnier conclusion on the market's overall growth. While Gartner announced a 3.1 percent overall increase from a year ago - which was below its forecast of 4.8 percent growth - and IDC reached a still-sadder conclusion of just 2.7 percent year-on-year, Canalys announced that the worldwide PC market enjoyed a growth of 19.2 percent, jumping from 88.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 105.8 million units during the fourth quarter of 2010.In their reports, both Gartner and IDC analysts said the PC market was being hindered by a number of factors, including competition from tablets.In addition to the boost from tablet sales - which came thanks not only to Apple but Samsung, with its Galaxy Tab - Canalys noted, like Gartner and IDC, that the market was helped by corporate refresh programs, as more enterprises made the move to adopt Microsoft's Windows 7. This trend worked in favor of HP, Dell and Lenovo.Still another boost came from strong sales of servers and storage, driven by new investments in data-center infrastructure."Recessionary budgets are over for most companies, and IT expenditure is again being used as a catalyst for growth," Canalys analyst Tim Coulling said in the statement. "The performance of the corporate market, however, contrasts starkly with the decline in public sector expenditure in most Western countries. The big service-led companies, which profited greatly from huge government-led contracts, are in for a tough 2011."