Apple to overtake HP for PC crown

Huge demand for iPads positions Cupertino just behind PC leader, Hewlett-Packard, says research firm, adding it expects Apple to surpass rival by 2012.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Apple is expected to overtake Hewlett-Packard (HP) to become the top PC vendor by end-2011, driven on by huge consumer demand for its iPad tablet device, according to a new report.

In a statement released Monday, research firm Canalys said tablet devices, or pads, particularly Apple's iPad, have "radically changed the dynamics of the PC industry over the last year". This have helped Cupertino claim second spot in the worldwide PC market in the third quarter of 2011, just behind HP, it added.

The global PC shipment is projected to reach 415 million, up 15 percent over the same time last year, on the back of increasing pad sales, the report stated. In fact, total pad shipments are expected to reach 59 million units by end-2011, with fourth quarter volumes predicted to exceed 22 million.

With this in mind, Canalys expects that with the introduction of iPad 3, Apple will take over top spot before the second half of 2012.

Tim Coulling, an analyst at Canalys, explained: "Apple has seen its PC market share expand from 9 percent to 15 percent in just four quarters, though iPad shipments in its core market--the United States--are likely to come under pressure in Q4 due to the launch of the Fire and Nook at extremely compeitive price points."

"HP and Apple will fight for top position in Q4, but Apple may have to wait for the release of iPad 3 before it passes HP."

Canalys went on to point out that PC vendors have been struggling to compete profitably with Apple, but this is expected to change with the introduction of new pad devices at cheaper prices from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as the release of Android 4.0. 

The new operating system from Google, in particular, will bolster tier 1 manufacturers as the OS combines both smartphone and pad systems to enable developers to adapt existing apps to run on pads, it added.

Ultrabooks to spur PC sales
The report also stated that ultrabooks will bring "much needed innovation" to the notebook category and help drive notebook sales over the next five years. With its differentiated appearance, Ultrabooks should make some consumers want to upgrade their existing models, it noted.

That said, prices of these new notebooks will have to drop in order to attract consumers to part with their money. Canalys research analyst Michael Kauh said: "The least expensive models are currently around US$800, a real barrier to mass consumer uptake. As more vendors embrace the ultrabook design, component costs should drop and mainstream consumer prices will be achieved."

The report also reiterated predictions by IDC, stating that the floods in Thailand will impact the PC market and lead to "challenging conditions" in the first half of 2012. The country is responsible for 40 percent to 45 percent of the world's hard-disk drives (HDD), but disruptions to the supply will, in turn, boost solid-state drive (SSD) production and lower prices that will benefit pad and ultrabook vendors, Canalys noted.

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