The latest research published by Gartner shows that Apple is still the third largest PC manufacturer in the US. Meanwhile, the iPad remains the 'product to beat', and will continue to be the market leader even when Amazon's Kindle Fire hits the market globally.

Gartner's preliminary estimates show that Apple is the third largest PC maker in the US, with a 10.6 per cent market share in the US in the first quarter of 2012. That's a total of 1,640,814 says Gartner. Leading the pack is HP, with Dell following closely behind. This data doesn't include tablets such as the iPad.

Garnter's data for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) tells a different story, with Apple not making it into the top five PC makers for 2012's quarter one. HP still gets top spot here, though.

When it comes to tablets, Gartner predicts a huge 98 per cent increase in sales in 2012 compared to 2011, with the worldwide media tablet sales to end users forecast to reach 118.9 million by the end of the year.

"Despite the arrival of Microsoft-based devices to this market, and the expected international rollout of the Kindle Fire, Apple will continue to be the market leader throughout the forecast period," says Gartner's report.

"Despite PC vendors and phone manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie and launching themselves into the media tablet market, so far, we have seen very limited success outside of Apple with its iPad," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "As vendors struggles to compete on price and differentiate enough on either the hardware or ecosystem, inventories were built and only 60 million units actually reached the hands of consumers across the world. The situation has not improved in early 2012, when the arrival of the new iPad has reset the benchmark for the product to beat."

Gartner predicts that Apple will sell 169,652,000 tablets in 2016, compared to the 72,988,000 predicted for this year.

Although the tablet's popularity is rapidly increasing, Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner remains confident that the psot-PC era isn't upon us: "The desk-based PC isn't dead yet".

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently agreed with Atwal's theory, claiming "there is going to be room for PCs for a long time still."

Worldwide PC shipments totalled 89 million units in the first quarter of 2012, up 1.9 per cent from the same quarter of last year.