updated 04:50 pm EST, Wed January 13, 2010
Acer, Dell, HP drop while Apple and Tosh gain
Apple has successfully held off Toshiba to claim a title as the fourth-best computer builder in the US for all of 2009, according to an early estimate from IDC. The Mac producer's market share grew just a tenth of a percent in the year, to exactly 8 percent, but was enough to fend off a surge for Toshiba from 5.8 percent to 7.7 percent. Apple is thought to have shipped 5.58 million computers to the country, or just 200,000 more than its Japanese rival.
Of the top five, Apple actually had the slowest relative growth, though it fared much better than second-place Dell, which lost its lead with a drop from 29.4 percent to 24.5 percent. HP overtook Dell by climbing slightly to 26.9 percent, and Acer widened its lead over Apple by moving from 9.3 percent to 11.4 percent.
Toshiba's rapid rise is more evident in results specific to the fall quarter, where it has ousted Apple from its fourth place spot. Year-over-year PC shipments for Toshiba jumped a dramatic 71.5 percent to give it 8.3 percent of the market; Apple also grew, but only by 0.4 points to 7.4 percent. Acer and Dell appear to have been the primary victims as both lost share and slumped to 11.9 and 22.4 percent respectively, enough to give them third and second place. HP jumped from exactly 25 percent to 29.2 percent to again usurp Dell's lead.
Researchers at IDC didn't explain Apple's results specifically, but the combination of Windows 7's October release and a shift towards less expensive notebooks has favored those building cheap PCs. Average Mac prices have dropped in the past year but are still nearly three times higher as Apple still prefers to charge a similar amount for more features than to lower its sticker value. Netbooks have helped buoy shipment numbers but are known to have eroded a large amount of revenue for some of their designers.
Internationally, Apple remained out of the top five, where Lenovo occupies the fourth-place spot for 2009 with 8.5 percent of the market. HP consolidated its lead with a gain to 20.3 percent, while Dell shrunk to 13.1 percent. Acer's preference for netbooks and entry PCs helped it nearly break even with Dell at exactly 13 percent, and Toshiba moved up slightly to 5.4 percent.
The fall quarter results stand as a potential sign of Dell's further fall as Acer has replaced Dell for second place with 13.4 percent versus 12.5 percent. HP nonetheless still holds on to a stable lead at 20.7 percent while Lenovo and Toshiba are again at fourth and fifth places with 9.2 percent and 5.8 percent of the market.
As these are advance estimates for most of the companies, the final figures are likely to change at least slightly once vendors publish their official results for the fall period.