Canalys Report Sees Apple Leading PC Makers In Q4 2011 (When You Include iPad)

Apple may be closer than you think to true worldwide PC domination. While the company has long-since dropped the "Computer" from "Apple Computer," evidently things are looking up on the PC side. Microsoft has held a huge, huge advantage in the desktop OS marketshare race for years, even as the iPod demolished the Zune and iCloud and trampling over Microsoft's cloud services. But according to research firm Canalys, Apple has become the worldwide client PC vendor in Q4 2011. That's right. We aren't talking about phones; we're talking about PCs. The trick here is to include tablets in the "PC" category.

Apple shipped over 15 million iPads and five million Macs, representing 17% of the total 120 million client PCs shipped globally in Q4. Overall, the total client PC market, including desktops, netbooks, notebooks, and pads grew 16% year-on-year. Excluding pads, the client PC market declined 0.4%. Read that again -- if you delete tablets from the equation, the PC market actually shrank in Q4 2011. Wow.

Among the other top five PC vendors, only Lenovo managed to increase its market share, by a relatively modest two points, compared to Apple's six-point gain over the same quarter a year ago. Acer, Dell and HP – the hardest hit – all lost market share. Now the second largest client PC vendor worldwide, HP will struggle to compete with Apple following the end of its Touchpad. Lenovo continued to close the gap on HP, thanks to successful investment outside of core markets. The acquisition of Medion in Germany helped Lenovo double its shipments in Western Europe during the second half of 2011. The vendor's decision to use Android for enterprise and consumer pads gives it a better opportunity than HP to continue gaining market share.  Dell placed fourth among the top five PC vendors, followed by Acer. Acer's shipments continued to decline, as a result of the pad's impact on the netbook market. It did, however, make headlines at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in January, when it revealed its S5 Ultrabook. Unsurprisingly, Acer and other vendors have been quick to announce their support for the new Ultrabook form factor, with the view of driving innovation and renewed customer interest in notebooks.

Bottom line? Apple's making a run on PC vendors, and they're using an entirely new product category to do so. Can anyone stop the iPad?