Analyst says Apple could become top PC vendor in 2012

Research firm Canalys announced Monday it expects Apple to surpass HP as the leading global PC vendor in the first half of 2012. This estimation, however, includes iPads, as Canalys considers tablets a personal computer.

Apple is already the world's second-leading PC vendor behind HP, and its market share grew from to 15 percent from 9 percent last year when including the iPad. Without the iPad, Apple's global PC market share recently passed five percent. This follows 22 consecutive quarters of Apple Mac computers outpacing the rest of the industry for growth, exemplified by 43.8 percent growth year-over-year during the most recent quarter.

Canalys's estimates pin global PC shipments at 415 million units worldwide by the end of 2011, which is an increase of 15 percent over 2010. Tablet computer shipments are estimated to reach 59 million by the end of 2011 according to Canalys. Not to be outdone by tablets, notebook computers are projected to reach shipments of 211 million units, an increase of 10 percent over last year.

Global PC shipment growth in North America increased an estimated 18 percent from 2010, with over 17 percent of that growth coming from tablet computers. Across the pond in Europe, the PC market would have shrunk year over year if not for the growth of tablet sales.

These numbers highlight the fact that tablets, whether you consider them a personal computer or not, are quickly becoming a significant and important part of the industry. With Apple leading the charge with the iPad and hopefully some real competition with Amazon's recent Kindles, the future of computing could look very different in just a few short years.

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