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Apple now a top 5 PC vendor in Western Europe as sales rise 20%

Despite double-digit declines in Western Europe's PC market during the third quarter, Mac sales surged nearly 20% to help Apple break into the segment's top 5 vendors for unit shipments.

Apple and ASUS were the only two major PC makers to show growth in Western Europe during Q3 2011 as the region's overall sales fell 11.4% year-to-year, with shipments reaching only 14.8 million units, according to research firm Gartner.

Mac sales reached 947,000 units, growing 19.6% from last year and claimed a 1.9% rise in overall market share, ending the quarter with 7.6% of the Western European PC market that includes the UK, France and Germany. The increase in sales granted Apple the fifth spot among major vendors behind market leader HP, Acer Group, ASUS and Dell.

The region's poor showing during a quarter traditionally boosted by back-to-school sales was attributed in part to a 12.6% decline in mobile-PC sales, driven by a more than 40% decrease in mini notebook shipments. Contrasting the decline was Apple, as the company's MacBook sales increased 28%, seeing growth in both the consumer and professional markets.

“The share of mini-notebooks continues to decline, which contributed to the weak year-on-year comparison. Moreover, the consumer PC markets in Western Europe remained essentially weak, with consumer confidence permanently shaken by the economic issues spreading across most of the region,” said principal Gartner analyst Meike Escherich.

W. European Sales

The region's consumer market had the biggest impact on PC shipments, falling 18% in UK, 17% in Germany and 9.2% in France. Professional sales also declined overall, however the need for companies to migrate to Windows 7 units is likely to give momentum to the sector going into next year.

Apple's success in the mobile PC market can be attributed to an increasing importance in brand awareness, as a booming market for non-PC products like the iPhone and iPad created a halo effect in attracting customers to the Mac platform.

The UK proved to be the strongest market for Apple as the company became the country's fourth-largest vendor, showing a 21.8% year-to-year growth in sales with 230,000 units sold.

UK Sales

Quarter-on-quarter growth for the overall PC market was seen as promising despite year-to-year losses, and Gartner expects the market to level out in the coming quarters. Apple's strong performance in the mobile market has given the company a new foothold in the region, however, allowing it a chance to become a major player in 2012.