updated 07:00 pm EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Combined figure gives Apple bigger share than Dell and HP put together
Unlike most of the other large sales-analysis firms in the tech sector (IDC, NPD, Gartner or Strategy Analytics) Canalys has made a habit of issues reports with what many consider a "truer" picture of the overall "computer" market -- counting mobile tablets like the iPad as another form of personal computer, like the traditional desktop or notebook. Using those blended shipment figures, Apple is by far the dominant "computer" company in a growing industry.
Sales of tablets -- mostly the iPad -- are so high that, if counted as PCs, they would have made up nearly half of the entire computer market in Q4. Apple CEOs Steve Jobs and Tim Cook predicted years ago that tablets would eventually overtake traditional PC sales; this has already happened in the UK, and is probably just a few years away from happening worldwide.
AppleInsider notes that back when tablets were part of the Microsoft Windows family (in the pre-iPad era), tablets were counted as PCs by most analytics firms. It was only when the iPad came out and was initially perceived as a "media tablet" (ie for consuming rather than productivity) that the categories were split. While that may not have been entirely unfair in 2010, four years later it seems ridiculous to classify the iPad as separate from traditional computers -- particularly as a growing number of users (and even enterprises) make tablets their sole or primary computing device.
Counting tablets would also give the entire PC industry a lift. When tablets are included, the total PC market globally grew 17.9 percent last year, compared to "PC desktop and notebook only" figures that saw an overall drop of nearly seven percent. In Canalys' assessment, Apple's total "computer" business gave it 19.5 percent share of the worldwide market ini Q4 -- higher than Dell and HP put together, and far ahead of second-place Lenovo or third-place Samsung. While Canalys' figures are based on shipments rather than end-user sales (except for Apple's own figures), Apple was responsible for more than a third of all tablets shipped in the fourth calendar quarter of 2013 -- an increase from 2012's 27.3 percent. Including the Macs sold in the same period, Apple sold nearly 31 million tablet and traditional computers.
Apple is also seeing gains in marketshare for its Mac line alone, and its iPhone market share as well, though not the kind of dramatic increases the iPad has experienced (since it completely dominates the tablet industry, whereas Macs and iPhones do not have majority marketshare in their respective segments). Oddly enough, Apple's iPad share continues to increase even in the face of cheaper alternatives -- the company currently has 38.3 percent share in China's tablet market, despite a plethora of dramatically cheaper domestic competition.
The bottom line is that Apple's iPad business, in addition to being larger than its PC business, is also larger than most other PC manufacturers' total output. According to Canalys, total global tablet shipments (all brands) totalled 76.3 million units in 2013. According to Apple's figures, the iPad made up 71 million of that number. Add in the Macs (16.34 million), and Apple sold a total of just over 87 million "computers" -- the best overall performance of any manufacturer.