Riding on the success of the iPad and its MacBook Air lineup, Apple is expected to soar past Hewlett-Packard (HP) to become the largest PC maker in the world by the end of June 2012, according to estimates released by IT analyst firm Canalys.
Apple was the world’s second-largest PC maker by the end of the third quarter of 2011, when including iPad sales into the estimations. Full-year PC shipments for 2011 are expected to reach 415 million units, up 15 percent from the last year, spurred mainly by tablet sales, a category in which the iPad is by far the dominating contender.
The iPad is expected to continue its dominance through the fourth quarter of 2011, and total tablet shipments are expected to exceed 22 million units for the quarter. Going forwards, Canalys expects the extremely low-priced Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Color to present a significant challenge to the iPad.
Apple’s share of the overall PC market globally expanded from 9 to 15 percent in the past four quarters, with the Mac snagging a 5.2 percent share of the global market for the first time in fifteen years. Notebook sales, another primary driver of the increase in PC shipments, are expected to hit 211 million unit sales by the end of the current year, which would represent a 10 percent year-over-year increase.
Overall PC shipments within North America are expected to reach 103 million for the current year, representing an 18 percent increase over the sales in 2010. If tablets are taken out of the equation, however, the PC market in the USA is only expected to grow by 1 percent in 2011.
Canalys also predicts significant growths in the Latin America and Asia Pacific regions in the ongoing quarter, with PC shipments expected to reach 40 million and 152 million respectively. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are expected to account for 28 percent of the global PC shipments for the current year.
What is clear from Canalys’ estimates is that the tablet market has become a force to be reckoned with and Apple’s lone contender in it continues to reign supreme, despite increasing competition from all sides. It is worth noting, however, that Apple is only expected to overtake HP in the PC market in 2012 if tablets are assumed to be PCs, a categorisation that many people in the industry do not agree with.
Still, if tablets continue to sell at the furious pace that they are currently—even if the iPad’s dominance eventually starts to shrink—with millions of people buying them as notebook replacements, it may not be a long time before they start being regarded as PCs by the overall technology industry.