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Apple's share of U.S. PC market slips to 7.4% as sales decline

Apple's share of the U.S. computer market fell to 7.4 percent during the first calendar quarter of 2009 from 8.0 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008, market research firm Gartner said Wendesday.

U.S. Market

On a yearly basis, the Mac maker's share of the market remained relatively flat, slipping only a tenth of a percent from the 7.5 percent reported for the first quarter of 2008, the firm's preliminary data shows.

Apple is estimated to have shipped a total of 1.135 million systems domestically during the three-month period ended March, good enough for the Cupertino-based company to retain its fourth place ranking and fend off a charging Toshiba, which posted nearly 20 percent growth on sales of 1.005 million systems.

Overall, PC shipments in the U.S. totaled 15.3 million units in the first quarter of 2009, a 0.3 percent decline versus first quarter of 2008 — better than expected thanks to price reductions and the steady penetration of mini notebooks, including netbooks.

“Mini notebooks did well in the challenging economic environment where consumers’ number one priority was to save money,” said Gartner principle analyst Mikako Kitagawa. “Mini notebooks continued to put pressure on low priced mobile PCs. This pressure was mainly felt in the consumer market, but it expanded into select professional markets as well, including the education segment."

HP was the No. 1 vendor in the U.S for the quarter, accounting 4.228 million or 27.7 percent of all PC shipments, which was good enough for it to steal the No.1 position away from slumping Dell for the first time since 2001.

HP’s strong portfolio of low priced consumer mobile PCs helped drive its growth in the U.S. home market while its improved channel programs helped it to increase its share in the professional market, Gartner said.

Q1 US PC results

Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 1Q09 (Thousands of Units) | Source: Gartner


Meanwhile, Dell was severely challenged by tough competition in the retail space and weak U.S. professional market, and as a result dropped into the No. 2 position in the overall U.S. market with a 26.2 percent share on sales of 3.996 million systems.

Acer maintained its seat as the third largest U.S. despite growing its sales nearly 50 percent year-over-year to 2.076 million units, the majority of which were low-priced notebooks or netbooks.

Analysts for Gartner said they think that Apple’s relatively higher average selling prices created challenges for it in the tough economy, but that its deft control of inventories limited its shipment decline.

Worldwide Market

On a worldwide basis, PC shipments totaled 67.2 million units in the first quarter of 2009, a 6.5 percent decline versus first quarter 2008. However, Gartner research director George Shiffler said he's seeing evidence of channel inventory restocking and therefore warned industry watchers against interpreting these better than expected declines as evidence of recovery in PC end-user demand.

"[I]t’s still unclear if the global PC market has hit the bottom," he said.

Q1 US PC results

Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 1Q09 (Thousands of Units) | Source: Gartner


Hewlett-Packard extended its lead globally, accounting for 19.8 percent — or 13.305 million units — of shipments in first quarter. HP registered higher growth rates than the regional averages in the U.S., Asia/Pacific, and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), thanks to strength derived from its solid consumer PC portfolio, including low priced mobile PCs.

Apple sold less than the 3.688 million systems shipped by fifth-place Toshiba during the quarter and therefore did not rank in the top 5 PC vendors globally.

Rival research firm IDC has also delivered its preliminary estimates and paints a slightly different picture. In its view, Apple ultimately gained a small amount of American market share, climbing from 7.4 percent a year ago to 7.6 percent in the latest quarter; however, it would still have shipped fewer Macs in the newest period, dropping by 1.2 percent to 1.13 million units.

IDC Q1 US PC results

Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 1Q09 (Thousands of Units) | Source: IDC


The rankings nonetheless will have remained similar to Gartner's and show Toshiba failing to budge Apple from its No. 4 position while HP, Dell and Acer took the top three spots. Worldwide, HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba occupy the No. 1 through No. 5 ranks, again leaving Apple out of contention.

IDC saw the mix fueled by the obvious economic impact but also by the influx of netbooks and poor sales of desktops.

Gartner's four quarterly reports for PC market share during the 2008 calendar year are available below: