Apple Gains U.S. Market Share Year-Over-Year in Q4 [Update]

Apple Inc. managed to sell more Macs in the December quarter of 2008 than it did in the same period of 2007. According to preliminary numbers released by Gartner and IDC Thursday, Apple sold some 1.2 million Macs in the U.S. during the quarter, representing between 7.2% and 8% market share for the quarter, up year over year.


IDC reported that Apple sold some 1.246 million Macs in the U.S. representing 7.2% market share for the quarter. That represents 7.5% more units than the 1.159 million Macs sold in the 4th quarter of 2007, but the company still slipped to the #4 slot as the aggressive netbook and PC vendor Acer rushed by Apple to take the #3 slot.

Worldwide, IDC reported slowing sales of computers in general throughout the world during the quarter as the worsening economic slump began to tighten its grip. HP was the number one PC vendor in the world with more than 15 million units sold, while Dell came in a distant #2 with some 10.6 million units sold. Apple's sales didn't crack the top 5 in worldwide shipments.

In the U.S., Dell edged out its rival HP for the top slot, with 4.6 million units sold during the 4th quarter. HP was second with 4.3 million units, while Acer sold more than 2 million PCs for the #3 slot. For the year, IDC said Apple was the #4 computer vendor with 5.3 million Macs sold, behind HP (20.2 million), Dell (17 million), and Acer (6.2 million).


Gartner offered similar numbers for its research report, saying that Apple sold some 1.255 million Macs during the 4th quarter with 8% market share in the U.S. That's up from the 6.5% market share Apple held in Q4 of 2007, and represents an 8.3% year-over-year unit sales growth.

It's when we start comparing Gartner's numbers to its report for Q3 of 2008 that Apple seemingly reveals the first dent in many years on its Mac sales armor. While every vendor saw a slow down in unit sales quarter-over-quarter, Apple's slowdown was enough to represent a significant drop in market share from the September quarter, when Apple sold 1.6 million Macs and held 9.5% market share.

We used the word "seemingly," because, as noted by TMO member lulli in the comments below, Apple often sees both a sales dip and a market share dip from Q3 to Q4. Apple's market share in Q3 of 2007 was 7.7% according to Gartner, with sales of 1.27 million Macs. In Q4 of 2007, sales then dipped to 1.16 million Macs with 6.7% market share. Note, too, that calendar 2007 was up until that point a record and banner year for the company in terms of Mac sales.

Prior years show similar trends, which means that the company's market share dip from Q3 of 2008 to Q4 of 2008 is in keeping with historical trends for Apple in terms of Mac sales, and also emphasizes the importance of year-over-year comparisons for Apple versus prior-quarter comparisons.

Still, it bears pointing out that Gartner also showed Acer as having passed Apple to become the #3 PC vendor in the U.S. with some 2.3 million units sold and 15.2% market share. The firm reported similar numbers as IDC for Dell and HP both on the worldwide and U.S. markets.

Apple reports its own numbers for the December quarter, the company's first fiscal quarter, on January 21st. The Mac Observer will offer full coverage of both the company's announcements and analyst conference call.

[Update: The story was updated with additional information on prior-year sales, and to better reflect the context of the market share numbers. - Editor]