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Mac platform reaches 15-year high with 5% worldwide market share

Fueled by strong gains in Asia Pacific during the September quarter, Apple saw its worldwide share of the PC market pass the 5 percent mark for the first time in 15 years, according to a new analysis.

Analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. informed investors on Wednesday that Mac shipment growth in the third quarter of calendar 2011 outpaced the PC market for the 22nd straight quarter. Apple's 24.6 percent growth dwarfed the 5.3 percent growth in total PC shipments.

The Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker posted record Mac sales of 4.89 million for the period. According to Wolf, that was enough to push Apple past the "magic 5 percent mark," up from 4.7 percent in June and 4.4 percent a year ago.

"More impressively, the growth in Mac shipments in the past year represented 20% of the growth in worldwide PC shipments," he said. To further put things into perspective, Wolf noted that Apple's September quarter Mac shipments exceeded annual Mac shipments for all years prior to 2006.

Source: Needham/IDC

Mac shipments significantly outperformed PCs in both the home and business markets. Apple saw 25.6 percent growth in the home market, compared to an overall increase of just 4.0 percent. When comparing dollar share, the Mac took up a 14 percent share of the worldwide home PC market, more than double its current market share.

Shipments to the business market were an impressive nine times the market pace: 43.8 percent versus 4.8 percent. Wolf suggested that the past six quarters of strong Mac shipment growth in the business market reflect the beginning of a trend for Apple. He attributes the upward swing to halo effects from the iPad and iPhone, both of which saw quick adoption in the enterprise.

According to one recent report, the business market is more readily adopting Apple products because it has become "easier to work with." CEO Tim Cook is said to be more willing to work with enterprise customers than his predecessor Steve Jobs.

Mac market share
Source: Needham/IDC

Apple did not, however, perform as well in the education and government markets. The company posted just 2.9 percent growth in Mac shipments to education customers for the quarter, compared to 16.9 percent for the PC market. Meanwhile, government was the only area where Apple saw a decline in Mac shipments, though the drop was just 0.6 percent.

Wolf attributed the Mac's poor performance in the education market to cannibalization of Mac sales by the iPad. According to Apple, iPad sales in June surpassed Mac sales in the K-12 education market.

Asia Pacific represented the fastest-growing geographic region for Apple with 57.2 percent growth for the quarter. Japan saw the second-highest growth of 49.6 percent. The company also achieved impressive growth of 19.5 percent in Europe when compared to the rest of the market's 10.7 percent contraction in the region.

The analyst went on to infer that China was the "key driver of growth" for Asia Pacific. Greater China became Apple's second-largest market last quarter with record sales of $4.5 billion.

"The growth of Apple’s sales in China represents a perfect storm between an iconic brand and a rapidly growing middle class that’s more brand conscious than consumers in most other regions of the globe," said Wolf.