Including iPad sales, Apple is the world’s third-largest PC maker, according to the latest Canalsys figures, published today. The PC industry saw general gowth of 19 percent — clearly boosted by Apple’s strong performance.

I’ve said this before — the iPad is a PC, limited only by the power and utility of the Apps you run on the device. Canalsys agrees that iPad sales should be counted as PC sales, with the analysts latest figures confirming that Apple’s PC shipments climbed an astonishing 241 percent in Q4 2010 (including the iPad).

“Pads gave consumers increased product choice over the holiday season,” said Canalys Analyst Tim Coulling. “While they do not appeal to first-time buyers or low-income households, they are proving extremely popular as additional computing devices.”

In a statement, Canalsys makes a series of strong arguments favoring the concept of counting iPad sales as PC sales.

“Pads gave the market momentum in 2010, just as netbooks did the year before,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Daryl Chiam. “We are encouraging vendors to plan for the future and not to remain stuck in the past.

“Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync,” said 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.

“Each new product category typically causes a significant shift in market shares,” said Chiam. “Apple is benefiting from pads, just as Acer, Samsung and Asus previously did with netbooks. The PC industry has always evolved this way, starting when Toshiba and Compaq rode high on the original notebook wave.”

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