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The computer market grew in the fourth quarter of 2010 by nearly a fifth. It turns out tablets were a major driving force behind the increased sales.

Apple is rising in the ranks, jumping to the third spot in the top PC manufacturers list, powered by the strong iPad and Mac sales...

The report by Canalys makes an interesting case – with screens of 7” and up, enough processing power to multitask and rich selection of apps, tablets have a rightful place in the sales numbers for computers, so the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab were included in the statistics.

The iPad is pushing Apple forward in a similar way to the netbook push that ASUS, Acer and Samsung enjoyed these last few years. Apple has leapfrogged Dell and Lenovo, placing third with 11.5 million shipments and 10.8% market share. The company also posted a staggering year-on-year growth of 241% (and enjoyed a profitable quarter), while the other companies were in the 10-20% range.

Regional growth is also interesting – Central and Eastern European market for desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablets grew nearly 40% year-on-year, while Western Europe saw the lowest growth of nearly 11%. Latin American and Asian-Pacific markets also had notable growths.

Canalys predicts that the increases in the VAT rate, coinciding with waiting for the refreshed lineup from Intel, will result in significant discounts of the current-gen computers in the UK, Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Read the full press release for some more info and thoughts on the computer market.

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