iMac shoots to No. 2

Apple's new computer is a certified hit, finishing as the second best seller in August, according to a new report.

Apple Computer's iMac is a certified hit, according to new sales data from market research firm PC Data.

The curvy computer with the translucent blue back was the second best selling system for the month of August, behind Hewlett-Packard's Pavilion 6330 Windows-based PC, according to Steve Baker, PC Data's senior hardware analyst.

Based on a survey of catalog and retail sales operations, PC Data said the HP 6330 represented 8.6 percent of all systems sold, while the iMac rang in with 7.1 percent of sales. The showing was good because the iMac was only available for sale 17 days in August.

"The iMac is far and away the best selling Mac we've seen since we've been tracking this information [in the last two years]," Baker said. "It's definitely a good result for them. There was a lot of pent-up demand, so they've been able to satisfy demand pretty quickly," he added.

Although Compaq still leads in the consumer market with 30.9 percent of systems sold in August, Apple advanced to the third spot with 13.5 percent market share, up from 6 percent the month before. HP was second with 23.2 percent, and IBM was fourth with 10.5 percent.

The system is so popular, Apple has considered using SCI Systems, the world's largest contract manufacturer, to maintain supplies of Macintosh computers, an executive with SCI said. (See related story). Apple has said it doesn't have plans to outsource iMac production.

The company may have to reconsider those plans, though, if it can't ramp up production of its other products. Apple has been building iMacs around the clock, leaving it with fewer resources to devote to production of other notebook and desktop computers.

The fastest of Apple's PowerBook notebook models, in particular, have been in limited supply since their introduction, and supplies of high-end desktop systems are said to be limited as well. (See related story).

Overall, August was a "very good month" for PC vendors, Baker stated. Unit sales were up 29.9 percent compared to last August. Average selling prices of systems creeped upward as new 450-MHz Pentium II systems began to show up on store shelves, with the average price of a Windows-based PC now standing at $1,164. The average rises to $1,205 when the iMac is included.

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