Apple Tightens Its Grip on PC, Tablet Industry

Market research firm Canalys recently released its latest report of the division of shares for the combined PC and table market, and according to Apple Insider, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) reached a 19.5-percent slice of global, combined PC and tablet sales in the fourth calendar quarter of 2013, giving it a larger share of unit sales than both Dell and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) combined. Apple sold more than 30,000 PC units in the quarter, while Lenovo came in second selling just under 20,000,000 PCs, while Samsung (SSNLF.PK) came in third, finishing merely shy of Lenovo’s sales.

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Many other research firms don’t include tablets in their PC market share reports, separating them into a non-PC “media tablet” category.  However, Apple Insider reported Wednesday that Canalys does recognize tablet shipments in its PC reports, especially now that the tablets account for nearly 50 percent of PC unit sales. Apple Insider says that other firms’ “gerrymandering of the PC market” only serves to distract attention from the reality that many consumers and enterprises now favor the iPad at the expense of traditional PC form factors, but the Apple iPad will continue to have a significant impact on the PC market, whether or not other market firms honestly report it.

According to Canalys’s report, as highlighted by Apple Insider, the global PC market grew 17.9 percent in the fourth-quarter of 2013, with tablets accounting for all of that growth. Tablet sales grew 64.2 percent from the fourth-quarter of 2012 to reach 76.3 million units. While strong tablet sales led to an increase in all PC sales for the year, accounting for 48.3 percent of its figure, sales of non-tablet PCs declined by 6.9 percent.

As for what tablets consumers were buying in the fourth-quarter of 2013, Canalys reported that Apple’s iPad accounted for 26 million tablet sales, meaning more than a third of all tablets sold. In the fourth-quarter of 2012, that figure stood at 27.3 percent of all tablets sold, reflecting Apple’s increased hold over the industry.

That’s just the U.S. we’re talking about. According to Apple Insider, in China, Apple has a 38.3 percent share of tablet shares, despite cheaper alternatives’ easy availability. Consumers have made it clear that they are willing to pay the increased price for Apple products as long as they believe they get what they’re paying for, but Canalys still says that Apple’s price points could come down on account of Android tablets falling in price. Still, Apple has been known to keep its high smartphone prices despite the cheaper options offered by its competitors, so it’s still possible that the company will charge the same pretty price tag for its popular tablet devices, even if its rivals offer a cheap attractive option.

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