Hewlett Packard regained the top spot for PC sales after losing out to Apple four months ago according to the latest industry figures published yesterday by market research firm Canalys. The results reveal that HP managed a 40,000 unit lead over the iPhone and iPad maker, the result of a slip in sales of their ever-popular tablets which fell to 11.8 million units during in the first quarter of 2012. In total, Apple shipped 15.8 million units during the three month period.

"If you look at the US, pads are approaching 40% of all client PC shipments," said Canalys VP and Principal Analyst, Chris Jones. "The rest of the market here was down slightly in Q1. The pad proposition for US consumers is very strong – thanks to the wider choice in content and apps – and the impact on the other categories is more severe."

Lenovo experienced further growth as well, coming in at third place with a 50% year-on-year increase, which also saw the PC client market grow 21% to 107 million units. Acer and Dell completed the top five rankings, although both firms suffered with a decline in PC shipments during the Q1 period.

The tablet sector enjoyed a 200% increase in shipments year-on-year, with Apple's iPad rising to 19% of all PC shipments, a massive increase on the 7% share during the same period last year.

Desktops and notebooks also experienced growth, with desktop shipments increasing by 8% and notebooks by 11%. Netbook shipments continued to decline however, with only 5% of the total PC market, down from its high of 13% two years ago. These latest figures mark the sixth successive decline for the sector.

"Most of the leading PC vendors have done a reasonable job of offsetting the declines in their netbook shipments over the past year with increased pad business," said Canalys Research Analyst Tom Evans. "Samsung and Lenovo are two that stand out in terms of substantially increasing overall volume, though Asus has performed well too. The challenge is breaking out into the really big volumes to challenge the leaders – Apple and Amazon. So far, only Samsung has shown it can routinely ship more than a million pads a quarter."