Counting Tablets, Apple is World's Top PC Supplier

No self respecting power user is giving up his or her desktop for a tablet, plain and simple. At the same time, can you say the same thing about your less savvy friends and family members? My neighbor doesn't own a desktop or a notebook, but he does have an iPad, and there are others just like him, people who just need a device to surf the web and check Facebook every once in awhile. Toss in a keyboard dock and you can even mimic the PC experience when it comes to hammering out emails or even getting a bit of work done via productivity apps.

Be that as it may, I don't consider a tablet a full fledged PC by any stretch of the imagination. There are those who do, however, including market research firm Canalys, which tallied tablet shipments into its latest report on the state of the PC. According to the company's data, worldwide PC shipments jumped 12 percent year-on-year to 134 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, if you include tablet shipments. And if you're willing to do that, then Apple becomes the market leader, having shipped 27 million combined units to increase its share to more than 20 percent for the first time.

Hewlett-Packard, which is the market leader when you take tablets out of the equation, shipped 15 million units in Q4, beating Lenovo by 200,000 units to claim second place behind Apple. Both vendors took an 11 percent share of the overall market.

iPad mini

"Apple’s growth in the [tablet] segment was driven by strong demand for the iPad mini. Its overall shipments, however, were hampered by supply issues. Canalys estimates that the mini made up over half of Apple’s total pad shipments, with its attractive price point and compact design leading to significant cannibalization in the iPad range and wider PC market," Canalys explains. "Despite record shipments, Q4 saw Apple’s [tablet] share dip to 49 percent, becoming the first quarter it has not controlled over half the market."

Dell, meanwhile, only shipped 9.7 million units, a 19 percent decline compared to 2011. Canalys believes Dell's direct business model is expensive and unsuitable for driving growth in new markets, and indeed that might be something Michael Dell and Silver Lake Management examine now that they've taken the OEM private.

What's your opinion on all this -- should tablets be counted among overall PC sales, or should the categories be kept separate?
Tags:  Mobile, Apple, tablet, ipad