Apple’s Mac Gains Share as U.S. PC Sales Drop

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Apple gained market share in the U.S. PC market, according to preliminary Q3 numbers from research firm IDC, but it did so by seeing its own Mac sales decline less than the rest of the market. In the U.S., PC sales declined 13.8 percent year-over-year, but Apple's Mac sales were off by 6.1 percent, a showing good enough to keep its third place ranking and jump from 12.5 percent of the market to 13.6 percent.

"A continuing slowdown in consumer PC shipments played a big part in the overall PC market decline," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, wrote in IDC's report. "The third quarter was also a transitional quarter before Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system release, so shipments were less vigorous as vendors and their channel partners liquidated inventory.

In the U.S., HP retained its first place ranking, while Dell remained firmly in second place. Both companies saw sharp dropoffs in year-over-year sales, however, and both firms lost share to Apple and Lenovo, the Chinese PC firm. Lenovo was the only brand to show year-over-year unit shipment increases, and the company's share grew from 7.2 percent to 8.9 percent.

The following chart illustrates the PC industry's sharp year-over-year declines in unit shipments:

Q3 U.S. PC Shipments

(Unit Shipments in Thousands)
Chart by The Mac Observer from IDC data

Apple had outgrown the PC market for 25 consecutive quarters through the June quarter of 2012, a streak that would end now, according to IDC's numbers. Still, it will be the 26th consecutive quarter where Apple has taken share away from its PC rivals, it simply did so by showing less of a decline this time.

The following chart shows the top six vendors in the U.S., plus "Others" for Q3 2012:

Q3 U.S. PC Market Share

Chart by The Mac Observer from IDC data


Apple still isn't large enough to crack the top five in global PC sales, but let's look anyway. Worldwide shipments of PCs came in at 87.5 million units during the quarter. That's down 8.2 percent, a better showing than in the U.S.

Significantly, Lenovo took over the top spot for the first time during the quarter. IDC said that Lenovo sold 13.7 million PCs around the world during quarter, up from 12.5 million units in 2011. Number two HP, third place Dell, and fourth place Acer all saw declining sales. Fifth place Asus was the only other company in the top five to sell more PCs year over year, outgrowing even Lenovo in percentage terms.

IDC said that Lenovo has been aggressive on its pricing, especially in the pro market, and that its strategy of buying up smaller companies has been paying off. Lenovo's advancement through the ranks of PC makers has been swift, tireless, and non-stop.

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TMO Spin: IDC didn't address the issue, but we think it's possible that PC sales in the U.S. might have declined more than the rest of the globe because of the success of Apple's iPad, and to a lesser extent, Android tablets.

iPad adoption—and increasingly Android tablet adoption—has been more aggressive in the U.S. than in other parts of the world. IDC doesn't include iPads or other tablets in its PC reports, but the devices have long been seen to be cannibalizing desktop and laptop PC sales.

Indeed, if you count iPad sales as PC sales, Apple is the number one PC maker on the planet. It's important to note, however, that this is a thought-exercise. The research, analysis, and metrics industry is still coming to grips with how to classify the devices. IDC and Gartner both break them out, for instance, while Canalys combines them into one category.

The point of today's spin is not to try and prop up Apple's Mac results—those results don't need propping up. Instead, we thought the year-over-year decline in PC sales was both interesting and in search of context.

This story is only going to become more muddled with the success of the Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7. Recent research suggests that Apple's share of the tablet market is declining to just above half, which really means that the Android tablet is growing, too. With both platforms growing, it's no wonder PC sales are declining.

We scoff at Apple's "post-PC" era claims, but the grim reality for old-guard PC makers is that many people can do 90 percent or more of everything they once needed a PC for on a tablet.

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peter scamp

when will i see a new iMac fed up of seeing iPhone iPad i want


Right. We better hammer AAPL stock then, lol!

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