Michel Dell's computer company has an unlikely ally: The Apple iPad.

According to IHS iSupply, Dell overtook computer rival Acer in no small part due to Apple's iPad cannibalizing sales of netbooks. During the fourth quarter, Dell overtook Acer, becoming the world's second largest PC vendor in the fourth quarter of 2010. Hewlett-Packard remained number one. 

Acer, based in Taiwan, has based much of its success in the netbook market, which accounted for as much as 20 percent of computer shipments in 2009. But tablets have eaten into netbook sales, which represent 14 percent of Acer's revenue. Acer shares have fallen 15.7 percent in the past three months. 

Acer's decline was accompanied by a sustained performance from Dell's core business division, whose revenue spiked 27 percent in 2010, Dell reported in February.

When worldwide PC shipments fell below expectations in the third quarter of 2010, many analysts pinned the blame solely on interest in Apple's iPad.  

That trend was reversed during the next quarter when global PC shipments jumped 5.7 percent to 93.1 million, a quarterly record. While PC sales are increasing, not all vendors are enjoying the same levels of success. 

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