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The astounding success of the iPad has made Apple one of the top computer makers in the world in terms of market share, according to new research.
Market watcher Canalys said Wednesday that Apple's share of worldwide PC shipments, iPads and Macs included, increased 241% in the fourth quarter of 2010, giving Steve Jobs' company an overall share of 10.8%.
That puts Apple in a tie for third place with build-to-order giant Dell, and not far behind Taiwanese powerhouse Acer, whose share came in at 12.8%. HP led the pack with a share of 17.7%, according to Canalys.
The results show that tablets such as the iPad and Google Android-powered devices are taking a bigger bite out of the desktop and laptop market than first believed.
"Pads gave consumers increased choice over the holiday season," said Canalys analyst Tim Coulling. "While they do not appeal to first-time buyers or low-income households, they are proving extremely popular as additional computing devices," said Coulling.
Canalys' findings aren't without controversy. Many analysts consider tablets to be a new class of computing device and don't include them in surveys of the traditional PC market. But Canalys rejected that notion.
"Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync," said Canalys' Daryl Chiam.
"With screen sizes of seven inches or above, ample processing power, and a growing number of applications, pads offer a computing experience comparable to netbooks. They compete for the same customers and will happily coexist. As with smart phones, some users will require a physical keyboard, while others will do without," said Chiam.
Canalys released its research hours before Microsoft is set to announce results for its fiscal second quarter, which corresponds to the fourth quarter of the 2010 calendar year and includes the key holiday shopping season.
Most analysts expect the company's results will show that Windows sales were flat over the past six months, amid competition from the iPad and other new computing form factors.