According to analysts at IDC, the US market is led by Dell with 28.4 per cent market share by shipments, then HP with 23.6 per cent, Gateway and, now in third place, Apple with 5.6 per cent each, Toshiba with 5.3 per cent and Acer with 5.2 per cent.

IDC counts PC shipments including sales of desktops, notebooks, ultra-portables and x86 servers, but not handhelds.

PC vendors reported global shipment growth of 12.5 per cent in the second quarter, as every major vendor except Dell posted a double-digit percentage increase in unit shipments compared to the same period last year, according to the IDC report.

Dell shipped 4.9 per cent fewer PCs during the quarter than it did in 2006, as the company continued to struggle with a corporate restructuring effort that has included deep job cuts, changes in executive leadership and a new strategy of selling computers through retail channels instead of only online.

In contrast, Hewlett-Packard (HP) consolidated its position as the world's largest PC vendor with unit shipment growth of 36.5 per cent. Overall, vendors sold 58.8 million PCs in the quarter, IDC said.

A report released on the same day by Gartner showed similar results, with Dell sliding 5.5 per cent compared to HP's growth of 36.6 per cent. Gartner reported that global PC shipments rose 11.7 per cent to 61.1 million units.

HP is seeing good results because of a multifaceted approach that allows the company to concentrate its sales efforts on new regions if sales slump in another sector, said David Daoud, manager of the personal computing and PC tracker programs at IDC.

"They are not putting all their eggs in a single basket," he said. "That is the result for a company that has adopted a multifaceted approach. PC shipments were slightly better than expected in the US, but they have done even better outside the US, in emerging markets and western Europe. So they can manage multiple regions."

Acer card

Despite the contrast in trends, none of the top five vendors changed their worldwide rankings by market share. For the quarter, HP claimed the top spot with 19.3 per cent of global PC sales volume, leading Dell with 16.1 per cent, Lenovo with 8.3 per cent, Acer with 7.2 per cent and Toshiba with 4.1 per cent, according to IDC. The Gartner study showed the same rankings.

However, Acer could soon begin to climb the rankings, if its success continues. The company improved its PC shipment volume by 55.4 per cent in the second quarter, pulling close behind Lenovo, which grew at 22.3 per cent.

"Acer is laser-focused on particular segments, especially SMB and channel resellers," Daoud said. "They are just plowing."

In the US, Acer is only the sixth-biggest PC vendor but showed the fastest rise in shipments, improving by 163.8 per cent over the second quarter of 2006.

Overall, the global market achieved its 12.5 per cent shipment growth in the quarter thanks to good activity in the Asia-Pacific region and to slightly better than expected activity in the US, Daoud said. That growth rate was higher than the first quarter, when shipments rose 10.9 per cent over that period in the previous year, and higher than the second quarter of 2006, when shipments rose 9.7 per cent year on year.

For the future, consumers continue to buy notebooks instead of desktops, as the cost premium between the two models has narrowed to its smallest differential yet. IDC forecast strong growth in the second half of 2007, but said that market competition will be more complex than just cutting prices. Instead, PC vendors will try to get customers' attention with system design, customer service, channel coverage and market expansion.