Canalys: iPad accounted for 1 in 6 PCs in Q4 2012

iPad (two-up, iPad, iPad mini, hand)

Apple’s iPad mini is doing the job exactly as the company planned: slowing a slipping market share. The 7.9-inch device is working so well one analyst credited it for preventing Apple’s fourth-quarter share of the tablet market falling below 49 percent.

Another, even more striking tidbit: the iPad accounted for one-in-six PCs shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012, per research firm Canalys. And if you counted tablets instead of PCs, demand during the fourth quarter would be up twelve percent to 134 million units. Instead, PC shipments fell by five percent in 2012, emphasizing how tablets such as the iPad could recharge a flagging industry…

According to Canalys, Apple’s iPad accounted for 49 percent of all tablets shipped, the first time the device had fallen below the magical 50 percent point. Google’s Android had 46 percent of the fourth quarter 2012 market. But Apple’s one percent slip could not be blamed on the iPad mini, one Canalys researcher said.

Its success proves there is a clear demand for pads with smaller screens at a more affordable price. Without the launch, Apple would surely have lost more ground to its competitors.

In fact, the iPad mini’s ability to keep Android at bay could be the most powerful argument for Apple introducing a wider variety of tablets.

The Windows 8 launch “had little effect on worldwide shipments”, Dell’s “reputation in the PC market continues to fade” and the iPad mini’s attractive price point and compact design led to “significant cannibalization in the iPad range and wider PC market”.

If only all research firms viewed tablets in the same category as PCs. The iPad would make Apple the leading PC maker, its 20.1 percent market share pushing HP into the number-two slot.

It’s uncertain how long leading market research firms, such as Gartner, can avoid the obvious movement toward tablets. In January, Gartner announced PC shipments during the fourth quarter fell five percent.

By comparison, the tablet market rose 75 percent during the same period. It’s a bit like a motor industry firm insisting on still counting horses when announcing transportation figures.