IDC U.S. shipment figures put Apple in third place

In a bold display, Apple surged past Acer to become the U.S.'s third-biggest computer vendor last quarter... according to IDC's latest shipment figures, that is. Rival market research firm Gartner still has Acer ahead in its own quarterly report. That disagreement shouldn't put a damper on celebrations for Apple stockholders, though, because both research firms do agree that the Mac maker's share is a hair's breadth from Acer's.

Here are IDC's figures for the U.S. market:

Vendor Q3 2009 share Q3 2010 share Shipment growth
HP 24.6% 24.3% 2.7%
Dell 25.2% 23.1% -4.9%
Apple 8.9% 10.6% 24.1%
Acer 10.7% 10.3% 0.1%
Toshiba 7.8% 8.4% 11.6%

And here are Gartner's:

Vendor Q3 2009 share Q3 2010 share Shipment growth
HP 25.4% 25.3% 2.0%
Dell 25.8% 23.8% -5.8%
Acer 13.6% 10.5% -21.0%
Apple 9.3% 10.4% 13.7%
Toshiba 8.3% 9.3% 14.2%

Apple has indeed made quite a leap compared to last year. Funnily enough, the Mac maker pulled off a similar feat in the third quarter of 2007, squeezing into third place by Gartner's count—but that surge in popularity didn't last. (Acer happened to purchase Gateway right around the same time.)

IDC and Gartner concur on several other points this quarter. For one, HP reclaimed the top spot from Dell. Also, global shipment growth in the third quarter was below expectations, and U.S. growth was particularly slow (both research companies blame weak consumer demand). IDC recorded a 3.8% year-over-year increase in the states, while Gartner estimates an even tamer 2.2%—both considerably below the double-digit growth seen in the second quarter.

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