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Combined iPad, Mac shipments make Apple world's largest PC vendor once again

With more than 20 million combined Mac and iPad shipments, Apple handily retained its title as the world's largest PC vendor in the first quarter of 2014, the latest data from Canalys shows.

Though lower iPad shipments in the March quarter led to an overall decline, Apple's 20-plus-million Mac and iPad units shipped in the three month span was still plenty to give it first place and a 17 percent total share, Canalys announced on Thursday. Apple already announced in its quarterly earnings report last month that it shipped 16.3 million iPads and 4.1 million Macs for the period, giving it 20.4 million total PCs.

"The fall in iPad shipments in (the first quarter) was the sharpest ever," said Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Coulling. "Apple took action during the quarter to run down its iPad inventory — a smart move as tablet stock in the channel rose due to strong seasonal shipments in the previous quarter. Longer term, we do not believe Apple's Q1 performance points to a decline in the tablet category, despite growing pressure from larger-screen smart phones.

Though the tablet market showed slowing growth in the first quarter, Canalys expects it to continue growing as consumers adapt and replace traditional notebooks and desktops.

"Consumers, and increasingly businesses, are continuing to adapt, with tablets acting as disruptors and finding their place as desktop and notebook replacements. Apple's ecosystem and the recent launch of Office for iPad should ensure it is well placed to remain a leader for some time."

The estimates from Canalys place Lenovo in second with combined 15 million tablet and traditional computer shipments, good for 12 percent. Lenovo actually saw its total shipments increase by two percentage points from the same period in 2013, allowing it to gain ground on Apple.

Notebook and desktop declines were slowed in the March quarter thanks to businesses upgrading from Microsoft's retired Windows XP platform to more modern, still-supported operating systems from the Redmond, Wash., software giant.

Taking third was HP, while Samsung saw shipments decline and fell to fourth. Dell rounded out the top five with just under 10 million tablets and traditional computers shipped in the quarter.

Total worldwide client PC shipments reached 123.7 million units in the first quarter of 2014, a 5 percent year over year increase. Tablet shipments grew 21 percent, cooling off their recent growth trends, but tablet shipments also reached 50.8 million units, outshipping notebook PCs. In all, tablets were 41 percent of the PC market, while notebooks accounted for 38 percent.

Previous data from Canalys issued in February showed Apple with a 19.5 percent share. For that period, Apple was larger than both HP and Dell combined.