Apple suddenly stands at the top of the mobile PC market, research firm DisplaySearch said today.
According to DisplaySearch, Apple shipped 10.2 million mobile PCs worldwide in the fourth quarter, capturing 17.2 percent market share. It was followed by Hewlett-Packard's 9.3 million units and 15.6 percent share. Acer, Dell, and Toshiba rounded out the top five with mobile PC shipments of 8.4 million, 5.9 million, and 5.1 million, respectively.
Apple's growth has been rather astounding. In the third quarter, Apple was in third place in the mobile PC business behind HP and Acer. Apple shipped 6.3 million units in that quarter, compared with HP's 9.5 million units and Acer's 9.1 million units. Apple's market share was 12.4 percent in the third quarter.
Debate continues over whether Apple's iPad should actually be included in market-share tallies of traditional PCs.
Last month, research firm Canalys reported that Apple's PC shipments shot up 241 percent from the third quarter to the fourth quarter. That figure included sales of Apple desktops, its MacBook line, and the iPad. Critics said at the time that including the iPad in PC shipments unfairly skews results in Apple's favor, and they contend that tablets are not actually PCs.
Canalys saw no validity in that claim.
"Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync," Canalys analyst Daryl Chiam said in a statement at the time. "With screen sizes of 7 inches or above, ample processing power, and a growing number of applications, pads offer a computing experience comparable to Netbooks. They compete for the same customers and will happily coexist."
Over the past couple of months, PC companies have unveiled tablets to compete with the iPad. Dell recently released the Streak 7, while HP unveiled the TouchPad tablet, which is expected to launch over the summer. They join numerous other tablets expected to hit store shelves this year. When they all do so, it would seem that market-share figures will then be judged on an even playing field, since all the major parties will have at least one tablet in the fray.
All the launches should also help create growth for the mobile PC business. In the fourth quarter, according to DisplaySearch, worldwide mobile PC shipments hit 59.6 million units, representing an 8 percent gain over the previous quarter and a 17 percent rise over the same period in the prior year. When tablets were not factored in, however, notebook PC shipments were only up 4 percent over the previous quarter and 1 percent over the fourth quarter of 2009.