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Preliminary statistics released just minutes ago by market research firm Gartner have Apple selling what appears to be a quarterly record 1,831,664 Macs in the United States alone for the three-month period ending September. That's up sharply from the 1,611,000 units the company shipped domestically during the same period last year, which netted it a 9.3% share of the market.
Overall, Apple ranked fourth on the firm's list of top U.S. PC vendors, falling just 17,000 units shy of Acer, which saw shipments decline 21 percent to 1,848,511 units. Still, those sales were just enough to allow the maker of budget netbooks to cling to its third place ranking. Apple's iPad sales are not factored into Gartner's totals.
"Apple had another strong quarter," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Increasing traffic to Apple, associated with the iPad release, as well as iMac and Mac Pro refreshes, contributed to the growth."
Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 3Q10 (Thousands of Units) | Source: Gartner
Topping the list of US PC makers was HP, which saw sales rise 2% to nearly 4.5 million systems. HP is followed closely by Dell, whose sales slipped some 5.8 percent to 4.1 million units. Toshiba rounded out the top 5, boosting shipments by over 20% to 1.69 million units.
In the global market, HP remained in the top worldwide position but it experienced a slight decline in shipments in the quarter to 15.43 million units. Acer similarly saw slight declines in unit shipments but its 11.52 million shipments worldwide were enough to keep it ahead of third place Dell, which grew sales more than 9% to 10.81 million units.
Lenovo, Asus and Toshiba rounded out the top 6. Given that Apple is estimated to have shipped less than Toshiba's 4.695 million units worldwide, Gartner did not provide its standing in the list of top global PC vendors.
Overall, Gartner said worldwide PC shipments surpassed 88.3 million units in the third quarter, a 7.6 percent increase from the third quarter of 2009. The results were below the firm's earlier market outlook, however, which had predicted third quarter PC shipments to grow 12.7 percent.
"The major growth inhibitor in the third quarter of 2010 was softness in consumer PC demand in the U.S. and Western Europe," said Kitagawa. "The third quarter historically is a strong consumer quarter, led by back-to-school sales. Consumer mobile PC demand, driven by low-priced notebooks, including mini-notebooks, slowed after very strong growth the past two years."
The analyst added that media tablet hype around devices such as the iPad also affected consumer notebook growth by delaying some PC purchases, especially in the U.S. consumer market.
"At this stage, hype around media tablets has led consumers and the channels to take a 'wait and see' approach to buying a new device," Kitagawa said.
In EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), PC shipments totaled 27.3 million units in the third quarter of 2010, an increase of 7.3 percent from the same period last year. Gartner said that the Western Europe PC market slowed as professional buyers and consumers held back on PC purchases, while emerging markets in Central and Eastern Europe — as well as the Middle East and Africa — experienced good growth.
In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments totaled 29.7 million units, a 10.5 percent increase from the third quarter of 2009. In the emerging markets, mobile PC demand in the consumer segment continued to grow unabated as mainstream notebooks continue to appeal to first-time PC buyers as well as those substituting notebooks for desktops. Meanwhile, shipments in China held steady at 62 percent of all PCs shipped in Asia/Pacific, growing 11.3 percent over the same quarter last year.
Latin American PC shipments totaled 8.2 million units, a 9.9 percent increase from the third quarter of 2009. Back-to-school PC sales in Latin America were reportedly sluggish, and this transpired into fewer home mobile PC shipments.
Over in Japan, PC shipments surpassed 3.6 million units, a 14.1 percent increase from the same period last year. Large deals in the enterprise and government sectors drove PC sales in the quarter, according to Gartner. In the consumer market, replacement demand for primary PCs, both desktop and large-size mobile PCs, has continued to grow since the beginning of 2010.
Meanwhile, rival market research firm IDC painted a slightly different picture of Apple's third quarter sales, estimating the company sold upwards of 2 million Macs domestically, boosting the company past Acer on growth of just over 24%.
"Apple's influence on the PC market continues to grow, particularly in the U.S., as the company's iPad has had some negative impact on the mininotebook market," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC vice president for Clients and Displays. "But, the halo effect of the device also helped propel Mac sales and moved the company into the number three position in the U.S. market."