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PC Shipments Bounce Back

Also, Acer overtook Dell to become the second-largest PC maker in the world.

The global PC market reversed its 2009 decline in the third quarter this year, as Acer overtook Dell to become the second-largest PC maker in the world.

Worldwide PC shipments grew 2% year-over-year in the third quarter, following declines of 6.8% in the first quarter and 2.4% in the second quarter, IDC said. All regions with the exception of Japan met or surpassed expectations, as portable PCs accounted for the majority of volume and growth. Netbooks continued to make a substantial contribution to increased shipments.

"Despite a continuing mix of gloom and caution on the economic front, the PC market continues to rebound quickly," IDC analyst Loren Loverde said in a statement.

IDC rival Gartner found PC shipments rising 0.5% year-over-year in the quarter. The analyst firm had predicted a 5.6% decline. "These are good results especially given that PC shipments for the third quarter of 2009 are being compared to a very strong third quarter from 2008," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a statement.

Both researchers said Acer toppled Dell from the number two slot behind the world's largest PC maker Hewlett-Packard. IDC found that Dell's shipments fell 8.4% in the quarter while Acer's soared 25.6%. Gartner, meanwhile, showed a 6.7% decline for Dell and 23.6% increase for Acer.

Gartner attributed Dell's performance to the company choosing to hold firm on prices to maintain profits at the expense of market share. IDC said Acer was better able to meet consumer demand for low-cost systems, particularly netbooks, during the back-to-school season.

Rounding out the top five vendors was Lenovo, followed by Toshiba, the researchers said. All the major vendors, with the exception of Dell, reported an increase in shipments.

In the United States, HP and Dell held on to the number one and number two positions, respectively, according to IDC. Gartner, however, had Dell as number one. Both firms had the same rankings for the remainder of the top five vendors: Acer followed by Apple and Toshiba, respectively.

All the vendors, with the exception of Dell, reported an increase in shipments in the U.S., but that came at the expense of revenue, Gartner said. The overall drop in market revenue was due to very steep declines in average selling prices.

"Consumers were comfortable buying PCs, but they were relentlessly looking for bargains," Kitagawa said. "Our preliminary research shows consumer mobile PC ASPs declined more than 20 percent compared to a year ago."

Both research firms expected Windows 7 to help boost shipments in the fourth quarter, as consumers and small businesses upgrade from their old Windows XP systems during the holiday season. Larger companies are expected begin their upgrade cycle next year.

"The prospects for future PC market growth are very solid," IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell said.

IDC pegged the number of PC shipments worldwide in the third quarter at 78.1 million, compared to 76.4 million a year ago. Gartner reported shipments of 80.9 million and 80.5 million, respectively.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Dell's $3.9 billion buy of Perot Systems. Download the report here (registration required).

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