With Mac and iPad sales combined, Apple shipped 11.5 million units in the holiday quarter of 2010. That was enough for the Cupertino, Calif., company to edge out Dell, which has 11.4 million units.
Apple took 10.8 percent of global PC sales, according to numbers from Canalys. And with record year-over-year growth dwarfing the rest of the industry, Apple is now within striking distance of the No. 2 worldwide manufacturer, Acer, with 13.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The addition of iPad sales helped Apple tremendously, giving the company 241 percent growth from the same period in 2009, compared with industry-wide growth of 19.2 percent. A year prior, the company sold 3.4 million Macs.
"Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync," said Canalys senior analyst Daryl Chiam. "With screen sizes of seven inches or above, ample processing power, and a growing number of applications, pads offer a computing experience comparable to netbooks. They compete for the same customers and will happily coexist. As with smart phones, some users will require a physical keyboard, while others will do without."
The top vendor for the quarter was HP, which sold 18.7 million units, good for 17.7 percent of the market. While HP maintained its No. 1 position, it grew sales just 2.9 percent year over year, well behind Apple, as well as the market average.
"Pads gave consumers increased product choice over the holiday season," Canalys analyst Tim Coulling said. "While they do not appeal to first-time buyers or low-income households, they are proving extremely popular as additional computing devices."
Last week, Apple revealed record sales of Macs and iPads in its quarterly earnings report. The company reported 4.13 million Mac sales, a 23 percent increase over the same period a year prior.
Apple also sold 7.33 million iPads in the holiday quarter -- the first such sales period for the touchscreen tablet, which launched in April 2010. But since its debut, the iPad, with a starting price of $499, outsold the Mac, leading one Wall Street analyst to refer to the device as Apple's "Mac of the masses."