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Apple's Mac lineup seen taking 4.5% of PC sales in 2011, 5.2% in 2015

Apple's line of Mac computers are seen making further market share gains in the coming years, growing to 4.5 percent of sales in 2011, and 5.2 percent of new PCs sold in 2015.

The latest predictions from Gartner show Apple increasing from the 4 percent worldwide PC market share the company took in 2010. The numbers are well up from the 3.3 percent share Apple had back in 2008.

Gartner believes that Apple's shipments will be stronger in mature markets where customers are already buying into the Apple product ecosystem, with more popular devices like the iPhone and iPad.

"The adoption of Mac PCs and Mac OS is a result of Apple's ability to grow well above the market average in the last 12 to 24 months, thanks to its ease of use from the user interface point of view and ease of integration with other Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and the existing Apple ecosystem of applications and programs," said Anette Jump, research director at Gartner.

The research firm noted that Mac OS share still varies greatly by region. For example, Apple devices have a much stronger presence in North America and Western Europe.

Going forward, Apple's fastest growth is expected to occur in emerging markets, where Apple and the Mac operating system have just a small base. For example, Apple's marketshare in the U.S. is nearly 11 percent, while the company does not crack the top five PC vendors worldwide.

One significant growth market for Apple is China, where Apple has already earned $9 billion this year. 2011 has been a huge year in China for Apple, with a sixfold year-over-year increase in revenue to $3.8 billion last quarter alone.

As for the market leading platform, Microsoft's Windows, Gartner expects Windows 7 to become the leading operating system worldwide, running on 42 percent of PCs by the end of 2011. The latest forecast shows 94 percent of new PCs sold in 2011 will ship with Windows 7.

"Steady improvements in IT budgets in 2010 and 2011 are helping to accelerate the deployment of Windows 7 in enterprise markets in the U.S. and Asia/Pacific, where Windows 7 migrations started in large volume from (the fourth quarter of 2010)," Jump said.

"However, the economic uncertainties in Western Europe, political instability in selected Middle East and Africa countries and the economic slowdown in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 will likely lead to slightly late and slow deployment for Windows 7 across those regions."

Gartner sees Linux remaining a niche operating system with less than 2 percent market share. The company does not expect Google's Chrome OS or Android, nor HP's Palm webOS, to gain any significant market share in the next few years, citing application compatibility issues.

Back in June, Gartner lowered its forecast for PC sales in 2011, as demand for netbooks continues to dwindle. The firm sees Apple's iPad affecting sales of low-cost notebooks, though it believes consumers are using the iPad to put off new PC purchases rather than fully replace them.

As for the tablet market, Gartner has projected that Apple's iPad will remain on top through the year 2015. The iPad is projected to represent 68.7 percent of tablet sales in 2011, dipping to 47.1 percent in 2015.