It seems like everywhere you look there is news of Apple trouncing the competition. Whether it’s the smartphone market or tablets, the numbers tell the tale. What’s a little bit more surprising is the latest Canalys report, which says that Apple has displaced Hewlett-Packard at the top of the client PC market:

That’s because Apple shipped more than 15 million iPads and five million Macs combined – representing 17 percent of the total 120 million client PCs shipped globally during the fourth quarter.

Apple seems in no danger of losing it’s preeminence in the tablet market, even though manufacturers keep churning out alternatives. ZDNet’s James Kendrick summarizes the challenge for competitors:

Not being able to build tablets as cheaply as Apple is bad enough, but the real problem the competition faces is profitability of the tablets being sold. Cutting every corner possible to get the retail price of tablets down to compete with the iPad, leaves a very thin profit margin, as is the norm in the consumer electronics business. Introducing a new tablet to market is a big gamble for companies as there is not much wiggle room in the profit department to guarantee success.

From the business standpoint, iPads are more and more popular in the workplace. The San Francisco Chronicle cites an IDG survey in this article, “iPad helps Apple succeed in business world“:

51 percent of managers with iPads say they always use the device at work, and another 40 percent sometimes do. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents use the iPad for business when outside the office.

This article goes on to say that because businesses have been more or less forced to support these popular devices brought in by users, it has “helped set the stage for Apple’s Mac computer to make its own inroads in the corporate world.” I never really thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Has Apple’s consumer-oriented focus on everyday users become the battering ram it needed to burst into enterprise environments? I remember the derision that met the iPad at its release with many IT types pooh-poohing it as a rather useless toy. Oh, how the worm has turned! How far do you see this trend continuing, particularly with client PCs? Should we even be thinking about PCs in the same way these days — a question Mark Kaelin poses here: Is the desktop now a niche concept?