iPad Makes Apple No. 3 Computer Maker Globally
A new study shows tablets' impact on the general computer market. In the fourth quarter, according to a report released Wednesday by the research firm Canalys, tablets increased the computer market by 19.2 percent -- and moved Apple to third place globally.
The rankings are in order of worldwide PC shipments, and Hewlett-Packard is still first with a 17.7 percent worldwide share in the quarter. This contrasts with a 20.5 percent share in the same quarter a year ago. Acer was second with 12.8 percent, also a drop from its 14 percent in 2009, and Apple's 10.8 percent is a large jump from its previous 3.8 percent -- 241 percent growth.
Tablets in PC Category
Dell is right behind Apple, with 11.4 million shipments to Apple's 11.5 million, and the same 10.8 percent as Apple. Lenovo is fifth with a 9.1 percent share, up from 8.8 percent.
Canalys analyst Tim Coulling noted that, while tablets "do not appeal to first-time buyers or low-income households, they are proving extremely popular as additional computing devices."
In contrast to other research firms, Canalys said it doesn't segregate tablets into a separate category, but considers them part of the "overall PC landscape." It compared tablets to netbooks in 2009 -- with both giving new momentum to the PC market. The company said Apple is benefiting from its iPad, just as Acer, Samsung and ASUS got boosts from netbooks.
Another Canalys analyst, Daryl Chiam, also made the case that tablets are PCs. "With screen sizes of seven inches or above, ample processing power, and a growing number of applications," he told news media, "pads offer a computing experience comparable to netbooks."
Globally, the recovery of markets is uneven. The report found that China, India and other parts of Asia continue to outperform other markets, which benefits makers such as Lenovo and Dell. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa still have a substantial consumer inventory buildup, while sales in the U.S. have "recovered somewhat."
Many businesses are undergoing what the report called a "corporate refresh" as new Windows 7 machines are acquired, and this favors those companies with a strong B2B presence, such as HP, Dell and Lenovo.
"Recessionary budgets are over for most companies," the Canalys report said, adding that this has been accompanied by a decline in public-sector spending in Western countries. Companies which benefit from government expenditures, the report said, are still having a tough time.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Corp., said it makes sense to put tablets in the PC category. "You put notebooks into that category," she said, adding that tablets are used to do "just about anything."
She also wasn't surprised at Apple taking third place worldwide. "iPad sales have been phenomenal," she said, "and the public is really embracing the tablet form factor."