Personal computer shipments beat expectations last quarter, as low-cost and portable PCs continued to fuel U.S. and international sales.
PC shipments in the third quarter rose 17.1% over the same period last year to 52.8 million units worldwide, market research firm International Data Corp. said Monday. In August, IDC projected the quarter's PC shipments to rise 13.3%.
Rival research firm Gartner, which measures the market slightly differently, said PC shipments rose 17.2% to 55 million units.
Second-tier PC makers Acer and Apple Computer outpaced the industry's top two players, Dell and Hewlett-Packard .
"Worldwide, HP and Dell grew just a tad above market, which is pretty solid historically for HP recently and on the soft side for Dell," said IDC analyst Loren Loverde.
Dell typically grows much faster than the overall market. But last quarter its PC sales rose 17.8% -- less than a percentage point over the overall market growth, IDC found. HP increased its PC shipments by 17.9%.
HP benefited from having a bigger stake in the faster-growing EMEA market -- Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The market grew more than 20%, Loverde notes. That compares with 11% in the U.S., where Dell is strongest.
Dell was the No. 1 PC vendor in the third quarter, with 18% market share worldwide, followed by HP with 16%.
Two quarters after its acquisition of IBM's PC business, China's Lenovo is faring well.
It hasn't suffered from the same post-merger slump seen after the HP-Compaq and Gateway-eMachines mergers, Loverde says. Lenovo increased its PC shipments by 13.1%. The company is the No. 3 PC vendor worldwide, with 7.7% market share.
Acer, meanwhile, benefited from its expansion into the Americas and its strength in notebook PCs. The Taiwanese company saw its shipments rise 53.7% in the third quarter. Acer is the No. 4 PC seller, with 4.7% market share.
Apple continues to experience a halo effect from its popular iPod portable music players.
The company has been able to win converts to its Macintosh computers, thanks to positive media exposure and happy iPod customers, who want to give Apple PCs a try. Apple also updated its low-cost Mac Mini computers during the quarter.
Apple had a "great quarter," increasing PC shipments by 48%, says Loverde.
In the U.S., overall PC shipments rose 11% to nearly 17 million units. Dell, with 33.2% market share, leads the U.S. market.