Apple recaptures third place in US computer sales

Apple recaptures third place in US computer sales

Apple moved back into third place in US computer sales last quarter and continues to post gains that outstrip the industry average, a research firm said on Thursday.

According to based IDC, Apple sold 1.3 million computers in the April-June time frame, a 32 percent increase over the same period last year. Apple's sales were essentially equal to Acer Inc.'s, which sold 2,000 more machines by IDC's preliminary estimates.

Both Apple and Acer accounted for 7.8 percent of the US market.

Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard, meanwhile, retained their hold on the number one and two positions with 32 percent and 25.1 percent market share, respectively.

"That's a pretty significant move on Apple's part," said David Dauod, one of the IDC analysts who produces the research company's quarterly sales estimates. "But it's definitely predictable." Apple, Dauod said, typically has a strong second quarter that's driven by sales to K-12 schools. "They begin to market to schools and the educational market in the second quarter, and they're responding to bids from school systems."

A year ago, Apple also held third place on the list of US sales leaders.

Other factors that Dauod cited for Apple's move into a tie for third range from the "halo effect" from sales of the iPhone to more interest on the part of business. "There are a number of small- and mid-sized businesses moving to Apple, and some large corporations are testing Apple's products, incorporating a few units here and a few units there," Dauod said.

The company's year-to-year growth rate was nearly nine times the average of 3.6 percent for all U.S. computer sales. Last quarter, IDC had estimated Apple's growth at about seven times the average.

"Its momentum is pretty impressive," said Dauod, speaking of Apple's ability to post year-to-year gains that are substantially over the average.

"Apple executes its market strategy better than any other company," he said. "It's consistent in its message, that message is always out there, and it markets to the niches that are most relevant to it, particularly people with disposable income who can afford to buy its products."

That audience will help Apple weather the US economic slowdown better than most computer makers. "It's catering to folks with money who are immune to the downturn, so that's good in the short term, maybe even in the medium term," Dauod said.

"In the longer term, their global share is still small, around 3 percent, so the opportunity to take that higher is enormous. Apple's brand is highly recognizable around the world, and now that you have growing middle classes and growing disposable incomes in places like China and India, there will be huge opportunities for Apple."

Research rival Gartner Inc. had Apple in sole possession of third place in the second quarter estimates it released yesterday. Gartner, however, put Apple's US market share slightly higher, at 8.5 percent, and said Apple's year-to-year growth was 38 percent, compared to the industry average in the U.S. of 3.5 percent.

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