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iMac, Not iPad, Propels Apple to No. 3 Slot

Overall computer sales in the United States decline while worldwide shipments see modest increase.

The education sector helped make Apple the No. 3 computer manufacturer in the United States last quarter. The company jumped two slots from its previous position at No. 5, according to two new reports. And that's not counting sales of iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone.

According to separate preliminary reports from two market research firms--Gartner and IDC--Apple took 10.7 percent of the United States market share for computers--including desktops and laptops, but not media tablets like the iPad--in the second quarter of 2011. Gartner reported preliminary domestic sales of 1.81 million units, while IDC reported 1.92 million units. By Gartner's reckoning, that represents 8.2 percent growth from the second quarter of 2010. By IDC's reckoning, Apple's growth was 14.7 percent from 2Q 2010. Only one other top-5 manufacturer, Toshiba, saw positive growth in the United States during the quarter (3.3 percent according to Gartner and 3.7 percent according to IDC).

According to Gartner, this growth as driven by both consumer demand and purchases in the education sector.

"Based on preliminary results," Gartner reported, "Apple showed the strongest growth among the top-tier vendors in the [United States], as it climbed from fifth place to third, overtaking Acer and Toshiba. The preliminary findings show Apple's performance far exceed the industry average, partly driven by an iMac refreshment that attracted both consumers and buyers in the education sector."

Computer Shipments Slip
According to Gartner, overall computer shipments in the United States were down 5.6 percent between 2Q 2010 and 2Q 2011, with 16.9 million units sold. According to IDC, the domestic picture was slightly less bleak, with a drop of 4.2 percent fort he quarter to 17.86 million units.

  • No. 1 HP, which saw a slight decline in sales from 2Q 2010 to 2Q 2011, managed a single-point gain in market share in the United States, from 25.7 percent to 26.9 percent (according to Gartner) and from 25.3 percent to 26.3 percent (according to IDC). HP shipped 4.55 million to 4.69 million units in the quarter, based on preliminary figures.
  • No. 2 Dell saw a more significant decline in U.S. sales for the quarter, off 9.8 percent (Gartner) or 10.2 percent (IDC), but easily hanging on to its second slot with nearly double Apple's market share--22.6 percent (Gartner) or 22.2 percent (IDC)--on shipments of 3.8 million to 4 million units.
  • No. 4 Toshiba held a market share slightly north of 9 percent on sales of 1.62 million units by both Gartner and IDC's reckoning.
  • Acer held on to a top-tier slot despite a double-digit decline in sales. It came in at No. 5 with a little more than 1.5 million units sold in the United States in the quarter, down from 2.03 million in 2Q 2010.

All other vendors combined shipped total units of 3.54 million to 4.16 million in the quarter.

"The professional PC sector was the bright spot in the U.S. market," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "Large enterprises were in the middle of their refreshment purchase period, which started last year. Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) were also at the peak of their refreshment periods. Due to budgetary constraints, the public sector had a slow start in the second quarter of 2011, even though the second quarter is typically a period of high PC sales."

Worldwide Growth in PC Sales
Meanwhile, worldwide PC shipments increased 2.3 percent to 2.6 percent during the quarter, with some of the most significant growth seen in Latin America and Asia.

The top-6 manufacturers worldwide according to Gartner were:

  1. HP, whose shipments grew 3 percent to 14.89 million (18.9 percent market share);
  2. Dell, which increased 3.3 percent to 10.62 million units (12.5 percent market share);
  3. Lenovo, which saw double-digit growth (22.5 percent) to 10.23 million units (for a two-point jump in market share to 12 percent);
  4. Acer, whose shipments were off by 22 percent, coming in at total unit sales of 9.3 million (dropping 3.1 points in market share to 10.9 percent);
  5. Asus, whose sales grew 3.7 percent to 4.47 million units (maintaining a 5.2 percent market share); and
  6. Toshiba, which, despite a slight gain in sales in the United States, saw a slight decline in worldwide shipments (1.9 percent) to 4.41 million units (5.2 percent market share).

IDC's figures were similar. All other vendors accounted for about 31 million units, for total worldwide shipments of 85.22 million units (Gartner) or 84.41 million units (IDC).

"After strong growth in shipments of consumer PCs for four years, driven by strong demand for mini-notebooks and low-priced consumer notebooks, the market is shifting to modest, but steady growth, said Gartner's Kitagawa. "The slow overall growth indicates that the PC market is still in a period of adjustment, which began in the second half of 2010."

Latin America experienced double-digit growth in PC shipments during the quarter, reaching 9.2 million units, according to Gartner--a 15 percent increase over 2Q 2010.

Asia also saw better than average growth, up 9.6 percent to 30.5 million units, Gartner reported, with China growing 10.9 percent, attributable to "the release of pent-up demand for consumer PCs," according to Gartner. Japan saw 5.5 percent growth to 3.9 million units.

Sales in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) declined during the quarter, off 4.8 percent, ending at 23.07 million units shipped, according to Gartner.

Both reports were based on preliminary data for the quarter. Final figures for the second quarter of 2011 will be released in the near future.

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