Strong Q3 PC Recovery Driven By U.S., Mobile Sales: Gartner

Worldwide PC shipments in the third quarter of 2009 increased 0.5 percent over the same period last year to reach 80.9 million units, according to Gartner.

That growth, which Gartner said compared to a particularly strong third quarter of 2008, was led by a strong growth in shipments in the U.S., which hit 17.8 million units, up 3.9 percent compared to last year.

The upturn in U.S. year-over-year shipments follows three consecutive quarters of declines, Gartner said.

Both in terms of worldwide shipments and U.S. shipments, the big winner was Acer, while Dell took the biggest hit.

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Acer was the No. 2 seller of PCs worldwide, with sales up 23.6 percent to 12.5 million units. It was No. 3 in shipments last year. However, in the U.S., Acer's shipments rose 61.4 percent over last year to 2.5 million units, letting it keep its No. 3 position.

Of the top PC vendors, Dell took the biggest hit this quarter. Dell's worldwide PC shipments fell 6.7 percent compared to last year to hit 10.3 million units, which gave Acer the opportunity to grab the No. 2 position. In the U.S., Dell's shipments fell 8.9 percent to 4.7 million units.

Gartner attributed the Dell drop in part to that company's emphasis on profit protection over market share.

Despite the drop in U.S. sales, Dell still maintained its No. 1 position in that market, followed closely by Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Apple and Toshiba.

Worldwide, the top five were HP, Acer, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba.

Also noteworthy was the drop in sales for all vendors other than the top five. The "others" shipped 11.2 percent fewer PCs worldwide and 13.7 percent fewer PCs in the U.S. than last year, Gartner said.

A big part in overall growth of PC shipments was the consumer mobile PC market, especially in the U.S., where sales were fueled by back-to-school sales, said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

However, that growth came at a price, Kitagawa said.

"The results came with a revenue loss because of very steep declines in average selling prices [ASPs]. Consumers were comfortable buying PCs, but they were relentlessly looking for bargains. Our preliminary research shows consumer mobile PC ASPs declined more than 20 percent compared to a year ago," Kitagawa said in the statement.

While third quarter PC shipments were strong, Gartner said it does not expect to see a big bump in fourth quarter sales as a result of the launch of Windows 7 this month.

New operating system releases traditionally have not had a major impact on PC sales, Gartner said. However, Windows 7 adoption could go up with a recovery in the PC market in the fourth quarter, with major ramping of Windows 7 expected to happen in late 2010, Gartner said.