Despite positive financial results, an increase in Mac unit sales, and the popularity to the iPod, Apple's worldwide market share has declined, according to Gartner.

Apple's share of the computer market fell to 1.8 per cent from 2.1 per cent worldwide, in the third-quarter. In the US market share dropped to 3.2 per cent from 3.6 per cent.

Apple's sales in Western Europe experienced the most dramatic drop. Market share here fell a half-a-per cent to 1.5 per cent in Q3. Units sales fell by 29,500 to 147,300 from 176,800, according to a The Mac Observer report.

While Apple was experiencing a 5 per cent decline in unit sales worldwide, its Windows-based competitors saw double digit increases in sales in the US and an almost 9.8 per cent rise worldwide, according to the Gartner figures.

The decline in Mac sales is most likely due to Apple's decision to stop production of the G4 iMacs almost three months before the iMac G5 shipped. Key to the delay was the shortage of G5 chips from manufacturer IBM, which also meant fewer Power Mac sales.

Looking up, thanks to iPod

On Thursday night Apple's stock closed at at $52.40 – its highest level in four years. The positive share performance is partly the result of the company's positive fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report, which showed net income had doubled from the same period a year before.

A recent analyst note from Credit Suisse First Boston, suggests that their are "no signs of slow down" of the robust sales of iPod. Forbes reports that the research firm expects Apple's next quarter will "shape up to be one of the best on record owing to a confluence of factors, including strong seasonal demand, exciting product cycles, improved supply and inventory refills all occurring at the same time."

Forbes also notes that Apple's stock lifted 35 per cent in October. A massive 145 per cent gain for the year.