Acer's PC market numbers add up

Across all of 2009, Dell managed to stay ahead of Acer by a hair's-breadth, but the year-end trend wasn't going Dell's way.

Reinforcing what we learned last fall, iSuppli's PC market numbers for full-year 2009 show Acer mounting a serious challenge to Dell for the title of world's second biggest PC company.

Last year Acer shipped 38.5 million PCs, a gain of 21 percent over 2008 that helped it win a 12.7 percent share of the market, just a hair's-breadth behind Dell, according to results released Tuesday by iSuppli. Dell's 2009 shipments totaled 39.9 million PCs, a drop of 9.9 percent from the prior year that was good enough for a 12.9 percent share of the market.

In the fourth quarter, according to iSuppli, Acer actually did outpace Dell in PC shipments, winning a 13.4 percent cut of the market over Dell's 12.2 percent share. And the shift didn't start then: last October, market researcher IDC reported that in the third quarter of 2009, Acer overtook Dell for the very first time.


Acer's growth was the highest among the top five PC makers in the world and achieved largely through a 28 percent gain in notebook shipments for the year, noted iSuppli.

"Notebooks accounted for nearly 80 percent of Acer's shipments in 2009," said Matthew Wilkins, iSuppli's principal analyst for compute platforms research, in a statement. "This allowed the company to capitalize on the fast-growing mobile-computing segment while limiting its exposure to the moribund desktop segment."

That momentum has Acer thinking ahead to an even more dramatic change. In January, Acer founder Stan Shih said that the trend toward lower-priced computers could spell tough times for companies like Dell. "U.S. computer brands may disappear over the next 20 years, just like what happened to U.S. television brands," Shih told a Taiwanese newspaper.

Though the desktop market has been stagnant for the entire industry, Acer actually did okay in comparison. Its desktop shipments were flat for 2009 versus a 15 percent decline for the market overall.

Among the top five PC makers, Hewlett-Packard remained in first place last year, shipping 59.6 million PCs for a 19.7 percent market share. Rounding out the list was Lenovo in fourth place with an 8.2 percent share of the market, and Toshiba in fifth with a 5.1 percent market slice for 2009.

Overall, growth in the the global PC market inched up in 2009 despite the recession. PC shipments hit 302.3 million units last year, a 1 percent rise from 299.2 million the prior year.

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