Canalys is still staking its market share estimates on the view that mobile tablets are as relevant to PC market share as desktops and laptops. If we accept that interpretation, Apple was easily on top of the heap during the fourth quarter. Combining iPads and Macs would give it 27 million computer shipments in the fall, or 20.1 percent of the 134 million computers that left factories -- the first time it would have had more than a fifth of the market. Not that Apple was the only one having a good time, however. HP reportedly took back second place from Lenovo by shipping 15 million PCs and claiming 11 percent of the market, while Samsung stepped into the top five for the first time at 11.7 million PCs and 9 percent share.
The upswings may have masked deeper problems. Apple and Samsung benefited from the iPad mini and Galaxy Tab lines, but they, Amazon and other tablet makers were reportedly propping up the market. Canalys doesn't believe Windows 8 or RT moved the needle for demand, noting that laptop shipments were flat year-over-year where tablets surged 75 percent. It was a tough market for most conventional PC builders -- just ask Dell -- and there's no immediate signs that it will be any easier for them in 2013.