Canalys has announced that the PC market grew by 7 percent in the first quarter of 2011, with the growth fuelled mainly by what it calls the ‘pad market’.
In what seems to be a marked difference for the PC sector from results proclaimed by Gartner earlier this month, Canalys is including tablets within the PC segment, claiming tablets are now being used more like PCs.
Led by sales of Apple’s iPad, the push has cemented Apple’s place among the top five PC vendors, says Canalys, to the detriment of notebook and netbook vendors such as Acer and Asus.
Shipments of tablets reached 6.4 million units worldwide, with Apple accounting for a 74 percent share.
And the next quarter is expected to bring a significant shift in the market, with new tablets appearing from Acer, Asus, LG and RIM.
Overall 88.6 million PC units, including tablets, were sold, up from 82.8 million units last year.
Apple’s dominance in the tablet space is lifting its results, but the potential for the notebook market however, seems unclear.
Canalys claims consumer confidence in Europe and the US is curtailing sales of notebooks, and the March tsunami and earthquake have led to an 8 percent slowdown in the local PC market in Japan.
Supply chain disruption is also having an adverse effect on IT vendors’ quarterly financail reports which will continue to be felt in the second half of the year, it said.
“Taking into consideration the iPad’s ‘halo effect’ on the company’s other products, Apple has grown considerably in most markets worldwide,” said Canalys Analyst Tim Coulling.
“As the iPad 2 and its competitors continue to roll out, we expect pad sales to propel PC market growth for the rest of the year.”
More interestingly, however, Canalys conducted a recent survey which shows that consumers are tending to use their iPads similarly to the PC, rather than a media player or e-book, hence its inclusion in the PC segment.
Email/messaging and social networking are the key uses for iPad and other tablet owners, although iPad owners used their device for more widespead uses, with 10 percent of Western European iPad owners using it over 24 different application categories, spread across communications, entertainment, leisure/lifestyle and financial/business.
“This broad usage pattern reinforces the pad’s role as a general-purpose computing device, and much more than just a consumption device,” said Coulling. “The pad represents a real threat to PC and consumer electronics vendors, as it is capable of replacing devices in a range of other categories.”
Meanwhile Intel recently claimed corporate demand for new PCs had led to a boom in orders for its chips, with its first quarter net income jumping 29 percent, topping analysts’ projections, and its own expectations.