In a testament to its brilliant marketing, innovative
packaging, and strong
brand image, Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has reportedly
achieved over 10 percent U.S. personal computer market share for the first time
since the early 1990s.
Both Gartner, Inc. (IT)
and IDC Research, Inc. -- two of the most prestigious market research firms --
have concluded  that Apple
took 10.7 of the U.S. market in calendar quarter 2011. The researchers
used gathered shipment data to draw their conclusions, the most accurate of
several market analytics approaches.
While the 10 percent figure represents computers
sold in the quarter and not the total percentage of computers in operation, the
study shows that consumers are increasingly picking Apple, even as the overall
PC market struggles.
Incidentally, Apple's best-selling iPad tablet is
cited as a major factor in declining PC sales. Gartner estimates that
sales dropped 5.6 percent year-to-year, while the IDC estimates that sales
dipped 4.2 percent.
Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa remarks,
"Given the hype around media tablets such as the iPad, retailers were very
conservative in placing orders for PCs. Instead, they wanted to secure space
for media tablets. Some PC vendors had to lower their inventory through
promotions, while others slimmed their product lines at retailers."
But Apple managed to buck the trend it helped
create, posting 8.5 percent growth, according to Gartner, or 14.7 percent
growth according to the IDC. Both Gartner and the IDC say Apple is now in
third place in PC sales.
Another clear "winner" was Japan's
Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502) who rose
3.3 percent according to Gartner, or 3.7 percent according to the IDC.
Toshiba bumped Taiwanese computer-maker ASUSTEK Computer Inc. (TPE:2357) to sixth
place in U.S. sales.
Market-leader Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ)
and the Taiwanese Acer Inc. (TPE:2353) shed
market share in the U.S. In Acer's
case, the fall was particularly precipitous, with both Gartner and IDC
estimating its drop at over 20 percent. Acer's fall was precipitated by
the mild collapse of the netbook market, a key driver of its sales.
Dell, Inc. (DELL)
lost ground to HP, dropping 10.2 percent (according to the IDC) or 9.8 percent
(according to Gartner), however it still clung to second place.
Global sales showed anemic 2.3 percent growth
(Gartner) or 2.6 percent growth (IDC). HP and Dell both posted similar
world growth and enjoyed the same rankings as in the U.S. Apple did not
rank in global sales.
In global sales ASUSTEK occupied the fifth spot,
with Acer's posting a smaller global lost and dropping to fourth.
Globally the biggest winner was Hong Kong-based Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG: 0992) who
grew 22.9 percent (IDC) or 22.5 percent (Gartner) to seize third place.
Lenovo's biggest gains were in the U.S. and Japan, markets it has
traditionally seen lower sales in.
Apple's rise from obscurity to a solid third place
ranking in the U.S. is not without its shortcomings. Apple has thus far
struggled to replicate that growth globally, particularly in markets where
price trumps image or where local players have a strong foothold (e.g. Asia).
The rise in market share has also led to a rising
number of serious malware attacks on Apple's OS X platform -- a platform that has
typically been ignored by hackers, thanks to its small market share.