With 3.3 million iPad sales last quarter, if that number is lumped in with MacBook and MacBook Pro laptop sales, Apple reportedly slingshots over Asus, Lenovo, Toshiba and Dell to claim the #3 spot in portable computer market share.

Which is okay for headlines and graphs, I guess. As longtime readers know, I've repeatedly said market share isn't anywhere near as important for Apple as profit share. With just 3% of the smartphone market they still make twice the profit Sony, Nokia, and RIM make combined. With single digit PC share they still make umpteen billions on higher end, higher margin Macs.

Sure an iPad can't do everything a Mac laptop or Windows or Linux laptop or netbook can do, but it can apparently do enough things well enough, and maybe a few things better enough, to be selling a million units a month with no sign of slowing down. It's not cannibalizing Mac sales to do it either. If it's cannibalizing netbooks and bargain laptops, already practically loss-leaders for Intel, Microsoft, and the manufacturers, while significantly boosting Apple's bottom line, then that's very interesting for the market.

Especially when Microsoft still seems intent on competing with tablets based on Intel chips running Windows 7 -- sometime in 2012. My guess is HP/Palm and BlackBerry maker RIM are more likely to try and emulate Apple's more mobile OS, higher margin strategy.

But back to the headline and graph: 1) should iPad be counted as portable computers alongside laptops and netbooks, and 2) what kind of market does that make where Apple is earning huge margins while everyone else is scraping by on razor-thin, race-to-the-bottom portable PCs?

[Fortune, graphs via Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore]

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