Apple has managed to garner 17% of the overall PC market due to its record sales of iPads and Macs in Q4 2011, reports Canalys. The 15 million iPads and 5 million Macs sold worldwide during the quarter has made Apple the number one vendor of personal computers.

The fact that vendors other than Apple didn’t ship any tablets in volume was seen as the big difference maker. “Currently, HP is pursuing a Windows strategy for its pad portfolio, producing enterprise-focused products, such as the recently launched Slate 2, until the launch of Windows 8,” said Canalys Analyst Tim Coulling.

The market, which is comprised of some 120 million PCs shipped worldwide in Q4, was up 16% since last year due to the inclusion of tablets. If you exclude tablet sales (basically the iPad, as few other tablets had any major impact on the market) the market actually fell .4%. This makes the iPad responsible for Apple’s growth, but also for any positive growth at all in PCs.

Another way you can read this data is that tablets are in fact replacing a good chunk of the market for PCs. The difference between PC market growth overall and the growth of the tablet market will only continue to grow as more customers decide that a tablet is enough for what they want to do.

As Coulling says, the onus is now on Microsoft to produce a ‘less resource intensive’ and intuitive experience for tablet users. The other vendors in the top 5 had a mostly down quarter, with Acer, Dell and HP all losing shares and only Lenovo turning in growth numbers. Lenovo is seen as being in a better position than the other manufacturers to close the gap due to its Android tablets, although those aren’t actually selling like hotcakes.

Tablets on the whole accounted for 22% of all PC shipments in Q4 2011, with the Kindle Fire and Nook said to contribute to that growth.