Market research firm Canalys this afternoon offers its update on the PC market in Q4, in which the firm groups together tablet computers such as Apple’s (AAPL) iPad among “client PCs,” as they term it.
That’s a significantly different approach from the standard measure of personal computer shipments used by Gartner and IDC and other research firms, in which only desktops and laptops count.
Counting in that modified way, Canalys crowns Apple the “leading worldwide client PC vendor,” garnering 17% of the market, up 6 percentage points, year over year. The firm says that Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), formerly the top PC vendor by units, fell to second place and is battling hard with Lenovo, the only vendor aside from Apple to gain share. Dell (DELL) and Acer (2353TW) took fourth and fifth places, the firm believes, both losing share.
The report includes not just the iPad, but also what the firm refers to as the greater “pad” product category, in which other tablets, such as Research in Motion’s (RIMM) PlayBook tablet is included, Amazon.com‘s (AMZN) “Kindle Fire” tablet, but also e-book readers such as the other Amazon Kindle devices, and Barnes & Noble’s (BKS) “Nook” series. There are, however, no numbers listed for each vendor in the pad category, though it is noted that pads made up 22% of total PC shipments in the quarter.
The vague release from Canalys is woefully lacking in detail and numbers, citing 120 million worth of Q4 client PC shipments, with Apple having 16% in total. I have a request in to Canalys for further detail and will offer that when I get it.
Update: It appears that more data will be forthcoming from Canalys, so stand by. In a phone conversation this afternoon, Canalys’s principal analyst for mobile devices, Chris Jones, acknowledged that grouping desktops and laptops with tablets and other devices is controversial. However, as he explained it to me, “We do see it as one big market of mobile computing. These tablets are not just about consumption any more, people can do much more with them than when they first appeared. The application breadth has increased and they are being used more and more as business tools.”