Sold through retail stores as well as Apple's direct sales site, iMacs are proving popular with consumers who had previously been disinclined to pay the relatively high price for Apple systems, especially when bargain-basement PCs are available for as low as $699, according to Matt Sargent of ZD Market Intelligence, who conducted the survey.
CompUSA is the best-known superstore in the United States.
Sales of Apple's iMac have dropped off somewhat since its initial debut in August, but are still showing strength as the holiday buying season commences.
Apple garnered more than 6 percent of the desktop computer market in August, dropping back down to under 5 percent for September and October, according Market Intelligence. Even so, Apple is still selling far more systems than before the iMac launch, when the company's market share hovered in the 2 to 3 percent range.
"Sales are still [moving] down, but assessing it overall, it's a big statement for Apple to come in and basically change their business strategy," Sargent said, referring to the company's decision to shrink the price difference separating Apple systems from PCs to less than $200 for the first time.
"People buying iMacs are the types of people that would have bought an Apple, but were holding off because they were priced so much higher," Sargent said. "Before the iMac there was a huge price delta between Apple and PC products. Now people feel better about buying an Apple."
Apple took the top spot in computer superstore sales, according to ZD Market Intelligence data, for August, September, and October of this year. The numbers do not reflect the results of several promotions Apple has launched since that time, including a new loan program for $29.99 per month with no down payment.
"On a broad spectrum they'll compete a lot better than they did last year," said Sargent, predicting that Apple will break into the top five desktop computer manufacturers by the end of the year.
Apple shipped 278,000 units in 6 weeks, naming the iMac the top-selling computer in Apple's history, the company said in a statement.