Is Apple the PC King?

Personal computing is headed for a touchscreen world. According to fourth-quarter data from Canalys, one in every three PCs shipped globally in the three months was a tablet, and Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad accounted for just under half of that sector. Overall, one in every six PCs sold was an iPad, and with Mac sales taken into account, Apple was the top PC vendor in the world.

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The iPad mini was the big winner for the company, according to the research firm. “Apple timed the launch of the iPad mini well,” Canalys’ Pin-Chen Tang wrote. “Its success proves there is a clear demand for pads with smaller screens at a more affordable price. Without the launch, Apple would surely have lost more ground to its competitors.”

Supply problems plagued Apple throughout the quarter, with the company losing majority control of tablet sales for the first time. “Despite record shipments, [the fourth quarter] saw Apple’s [tablet] share dip to 49 percent, becoming the first quarter it has not controlled over half the market.”

Apple shipped 27 million units of Macs and iPads in the fourth quarter for a 20.1 percent share of the overall PC market, Canalys said. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) came second with 15 million units and an 11.2 percent share, while Lenovo, in third place, was just 200,000 units behind it. Samsung (SSNFL.PK) shipped 11.7 million units for a 9 percent share of the overall market, with most of its sales coming from the Galaxy Tab line.