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IDC: Apple hits 8.7% share as fastest growing PC maker in US 4Q sales

Even without counting iPad sales, IDC's preliminary Q4 2010 report on PC shipments shows Apple experienced the fastest growth in an industry where average growth went negative due to tablet sales.

Apple's Mac sales were enough to take an 8.7 percent share of the US PC market in the fourth quarter, and an 8.8 percent share of PC sales across all of 2010.

IDC reported that "the worldwide PC market continued to slow in the fourth quarter of 2010 due to a softening consumer market, competing products like Media Tablets, and strong year ago sales," carefully avoiding mention of the iPad and excluding it from its PC market figures, which do include netbooks and convertible laptops.

"Despite a holiday season marked by a long promotion cycle and highly competitive price points, the global PC market saw shipments rise only a modest 2.7% year-on-year during the 2010 Fourth Quarter," IDC notes.

PC growth had been projected to hit 5.5%, although the 92.1 million PCs shipped in the quarter still amounted to the largest ever. Over the entire year, PC shipments hit 346.2 million, an increase of 13.6% over 2009.

US PC market shrinks in 4Q

In the US however, the PC market actually contracted by 4.8% in Q4, leaving only fifth ranked Apple (up 15.2 percent, with an estimated sales of 1.7 million Macs) and third place Toshiba (up 14.4 percent, with 1.97 million computers) as the only two top five PC makers in the US market to actually grow their sales year over year.

First place HP shrank by 5.3 percent to ship 5.72 million PCs, while second place Dell was down 5.4 percent on sales of 4.37 million units. Other PC makers in the US market shipped a total of 4.43 million machines, down 4.4 percent from last year.

David Daoud, IDC's research director, noted that "the US market was expected to shrink year over year given the exploding growth of the year-ago quarter (4Q09)," but explained that "growth has been steadily slowing throughout the year as weakening demand and competition from the Apple iPad constrain PC shipments."

Mysterious PC market stall affects everyone but Apple

Daoud added that "in addition to relatively high market penetration and 'good-enough' computing, consumers are spending less than they used to, and competing devices added competition for consumer dollars. This situation is likely to persist in 2011, if not get worse as a wave of Media Tablets could put a dent on the traditional PC market."

Research analyst Jay Chou said that "consumer fatigue is playing an important role in many markets as the Mini Notebook surge wanes and consumers watch their spending and evaluate other products." IDC's report added that the firm expects "roughly flat growth in the first half of 2011 before the market picks up speed again."

IDC specifically noted that HP faced a "challenging quarter in the US" as sales of Mini Notebook PCs (formerly called netbooks) slowed, while both it and Dell attempted to stake out growth in emerging markets to offset the "stalled US market."

Acer, "after a strong run through 2009," was "affected by lackluster sales of Mini Notebook PCs, and slowing consumer demand across many markets." IDC did not specifically attribute the marked drop in Acer's netbook sales to the iPad, as Acer itself has. Acer acquired Gateway/Packard Bell in 2008.

Lenovo "generally grew well above market at just over 21%," IDC reported, noting "improvement in garnering commercial projects and disciplined approach to region-specific initiatives."

IDC also pointed out that Toshiba "shipped 12% more than the same time last year, as one of the few top vendors managing double digit growth in the US," without mentioning in its report notes that its own numbers detailed that Apple outpaced Toshiba and the rest of the industry in US 4Q sales, even without counting the iPad and its devastating blow to netbook and conventional PC sales.

2010 US PC sales

Throughout all of 2010, the US PC market grew by 5.7 percent, with Toshiba initially taking the lead in growth in fourth place with 18.4 percent more PC sales of 6.62 million. Apple was closely behind in fifth place with 18.4 percent growth on sales of 6.59 million Macs.

First place HP grew by 3.8 percent to sell 19.49 million computers, while second place Dell struggled to reach 1.5 percent growth on sales of 17.35 million PCs. Acer grew by just 0.2 percent the entire year, reaching PC sales of 8.01 million.

US PC market 2010

Global PC sales

Outside the US, PC vendors in Q4 grew sales by just 2.7 percent, with fourth place Lenovo reaching sales of 9.56 million PCs, growth of 21.1 percent over the previous year ago quarter. First place HP contracted by 0.9 percent with quarterly sales of 19.96 million PCs, while second place Dell grew by 4.2 percent globally, reaching 11.14 million in sales.

Third place Acer shrunk globally by a whopping 15 percent, falling to 9.78 million in global PC sales, while fifth place Toshiba grew by 12.1 percent to reach sales of 5.45 million PCs.

Across the entire year, PC vendors grew by an average of 13.6 percent. HP remains the largest PC maker globally this year with 18.5 percent of the market, while Dell and Acer are nearly tied at 12.5 and 12.3 percent share, respectively.

Lenovo has 9.9 percent share of the global market, Toshiba has 5.5 percent, and remaining vendors make up 41.3 percent of all sales.

Global PC market Q4 2010
Global PC market 2010