Sales of Apple's Mac are already off to a cheerful start this quarter and could reach as many as 5.3 million units by the end of December, according a new report from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
Based on data from NPD Group, Munster found that Mac sales in the United States rose 19 percent in October over the same month last year. The year-over-year growth is especially strong, given that Apple had just refreshed the MacBook Air that month last year.
Looking at the global picture, Wall Street is projecting a 25 percent gain in worldwide Mac sales for the three months ending in December. If that estimate proves true, it means that Apple would sell 5.2 million units for the quarter, leading Munster to maintain his forecast of 5.1 million to 5.3 million.
The analyst expects Mac sales to account for 18 percent of Apple's total revenue for the final quarter of the year.
The Mac is also proving to be one of the few bright spots in the European PC arena, where the market has been in a slump. Third-quarter PC shipments across Western Europe dropped more than 11 percent from last year, according to new data from Gartner.
Looking at three of the five major PC vendors in Europe, HP, Acer, and Dell all saw a decline in shipments from 2010. Acer was hit the hardest, with a 45 percent drop.
Only Asus and Apple witnessed growth in shipments--20.3 percent and 19.6 percent, respectively. Although it is still in fifth place among the top five personal-computer makers, Apple boosted its market share to 7.6 percent from 5.7 percent, and it captured double-digit gains in both the consumer and business markets, Gartner said.