"Why do you think Intel is putting so much into ultrabooks? It is not only to compete against tablets, but to offer competition to Apple, which could switch to the company's own products eventually," McGregor said.
Apple has also provided a boost to the ARM camp, which is also looking to challenge Intel in the PC space. Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 OS will work on the x86 and ARM architecture, and companies like Qualcomm are looking to introduce ARM-based PCs as an alternative to Intel-based PCs.
"The more successful Apple is, the more credibility it adds to the entire ARM camp and the more competitive the ARM camp becomes as a whole," McGregor said.
ARM is on the rise as x86 declines in the mobile processor market, according to the In-Stat study. Following Intel and Apple in 2011 mobile processor shipments were Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and Samsung, which are all ARM licensees, while x86 chip designer Advanced Micro Devices took sixth place.
But questions remain on whether ARM processors will match Intel's Core processors on performance, McGregor said. Microsoft's Windows 8 seems to run better on tablets as opposed to PCs which could help ARM, but ultrabooks with Intel chips will look more like convertible tablets in the future, McGregor said. There are also driver and application compatibility issues facing Windows 8 on ARM.
But the impact of Apple as a mobile processor company will be felt as long as the iPad and iPhone shipments grow, McGregor said.
"It will interesting to see how things play out over the next few years, but it will be the consumers that ultimately decide the fates of the companies and technologies involved," McGregor said.