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Apple Mac sales down, but the broader PC market is even worse off

Apple is selling fewer MacBooks and iMacs, according to analyst IDC, but declining PC sales across the board means the company actually occupies a larger slice of the market.

The 2015 model of Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro. Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple's two latest iPhones may be off to a strong start in terms of sales, but fewer people are buying the company's MacBooks and iMacs.

Analysts aren't in agreement over the rate of the slowdown, with IDC reporting a 3.4 percent decline in Mac units shipped and research firm Gartner reporting slowing growth of 1.5 percent in the third quarter. Both numbers point to the lowest growth rate in two years, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple isn't alone in facing slowing growth, as the broader industry grapples with fewer people feeling the need to buy new desktop computers and laptops. The PC market suffered an 11 percent decline, which was worse than previously expected, said IDC.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has actually outperformed the rest of the PC market. The company now occupies a larger slice of the PC market overall, rising to 7.5 percent from 6.9 percent in the same period a year ago to fourth place, according to IDC. Lenovo remains the top PC maker with 21 percent of the market, followed by Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

Microsoft, Apple's main rival in the computing market, is hoping to win back some of that share for its partners and itself with its recently released Windows 10 software, which will be pre-installed on most non-Apple computer sold over the next year. Microsoft has also just released its first ever laptop, the Surface Book, putting it in direct competition with not only Apple, but other PC makers that make Windows 10 devices.

Apple will reportedly add a 21.5-inch iMac with sharper 4K resolution to its Mac lineup next week, and earlier this year released a new 12-inch MacBook. Apple has always clearly delineated its computer and mobile ranges. But if the soon-to-be released iPad Pro, which comes with a stylus and keyboard stand, is a commercial success it could be in direct competition with the latest MacBook, which is more portable and less powerful than Apple's MacBook Airs and Pros.

Apple declined to comment. The company will report final Mac sales figures when it posts its financial results for the previous three months on October 27.