On the shoulders of a strong number of netbooks shipped in the first quarter of 2009, Acer has surpassed Dell as the No. 2 notebook maker in the market.
The metrics come as part of the preliminary results of a study DisplaySearch, part of the NPD group, did in the first part of this year. The study also found that the number of netbooks shipped in the first quarter of the year reached nearly six million, raising the ultraportable computing devices' penetration in the notebook market to 20 percent worldwide.
Hewlett-Packard still retains the crown as the leading vendor for notebooks, shipping 7.3 million devices in the first quarter of this year. Acer -- largely on the strength of its netbooks -- hurdles Dell to claim the second spot with a total of 5.7 million notebooks and netbooks shipped.
Meanwhile, Dell drops to the third spot on DisplaySearch's list with 4.3 million units shipped. Toshiba ranks fourth while Lenovo -- even with the brand recognition of its ThinkPad line of notebooks -- rounds out the top five with 2.1 million units moved in the first quarter.
Acer was far and away the class of the netbook field, with 30.5 percent of the market share, according to DisplaySearch. The company shipped about 1.8 million netbooks alone. Acer's closest competitor, Asus, by contrast, shipped 900,000 netbooks.
HP, Dell and Lenovo all combined to ship a total of 1.3 million netbooks.
"It is clear at the moment that mini-notes play a vital role in the total PC market," John F. Jacobs, director of notebook market research for DisplaySearch and author of the report, said in a statement. "While there is no doubt that many buyers of mini-notes would have chosen larger notebook PCs if mini-notes were not available, it is also certain that many buyers might have chosen not to purchase a notebook PC at all."
DisplaySearch goes on to note that the region with the most netbook shipments was not North America, but rather EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), with approximately 45 percent of all netbook shipments landing there. North America, on the other hand, accounted for less than 26 percent of the overall number of shipments worldwide.
The research company opines that a large part of netbooks' popularity in places like Europe could come from the fact that telecom companies overseas have been more willing to experiment with subsidized netbook prices as part of a two-year service agreement.