Research firm Canalys on Thursday said Apple was the world's fourth-largest PC maker during the first quarter, after adding the computer maker's iPad in worldwide PC shipments.
PC shipments, including tablets, totaled 88.6 million in the first quarter, up from 82.8 million in last year's first quarter, during which tablets were not widely available. Tablet shipments totaled 6.4 million, with Apple taking a 74 percent market share with its iPad.
Canalys' numbers differ from analyst firms Gartner and IDC, which do not include tablets in their PC shipment numbers. Gartner and IDC earlier this month said PC shipments declined during the first quarter, partly due to economic uncertainty and a growing interest in tablets. IDC said that year-over-year PC shipments declined by 3.2 percent, while Gartner said shipments declined by 1.1 percent. IDC conducts a separate study that accounts for tablet and e-reader shipments.
Canalys includes tablets in PC shipments because a recent consumer survey conducted by the company showed "that current [tablet] usage resembles that of a PC, rather than a media player or e-book reader."
In its study, Canalys found that tablets were used for general-purpose computing activities such as Web browsing, e-mail, social networking and media access. Apple's dominance will continue in the second quarter with the iPad 2, which started shipping last month, but new tablets due from Acer, Asus, LG and Research In Motion could raise the level of competition, Canalys said.
Apple's client PC shipments during the first quarter grew by 187.9 percent to total 8.45 million, a 9.5 percent market share. The company's rise came at the expense of computer makers who got a late start in the tablet market. Hewlett-Packard retained its position as the world's top PC vendor, shipping 14.7 million PCs, declining by 5.8 percent year over year, with a 16.6 percent market share. Acer was second, shipping 11.3 million units, declining by 6.5 percent, with a 12.8 percent market share. Dell was third, with shipments growing by 2.8 percent to 10 million units.
In earlier surveys, IDC and Gartner agreed that the iPad was partly responsible for the slowdown in PC shipments.
"With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs. We're investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement earlier this month.