Acer storms up on lagging Dell in 2009 PC market

Acer shows huge growth as Dell slips, bringing Acer within a breath of second-place ranking

Dell had better take a look over its shoulder -- rival Acer is coming up fast from behind and is on the verge of overtaking Dell as the No. 2 PC maker in the world.

Acer enjoyed huge growth in 2009, showing a 21% increase in PC shipments. The Taiwanese computer maker went from 31.8 million unit shipments in 2008 to 38.5 million last year, according to research company iSuppli Corp.

While Acer showed the strongest growth among the world's five leading PC makers, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell did not have such a good year. Dell showed a 9.9% drop in shipments last year, with global PC shipments slipping from 43.3 million in 2008 to 38.96 million this past year, iSuppli said in a report released today.

With Acer growing and Dell struggling, Dell managed to hold on to the second-place spot in the PC market by a 0.2% margin over Acer. Dell held a firmer 3.8% point lead over Acer the year before.

"Acer's 2009 success was driven by the notebook PC market," said Matthew Wilkins, a principal analyst at iSuppli, in a statement. "Notebooks accounted for nearly 80% of Acer's shipments in 2009. This allowed the company to capitalize on the fast-growing mobile-computing segment, while limiting its exposure to the moribund desktop segment."

Wilkins added that Acer grabbed a 28% worldwide increase in laptop shipments last year, compared with a 20% increase in shipments for the entire market.

"Acer owes its strong notebook success to the fact that it is covering the key bases well, with a strong portfolio encompassing both regular laptops and netbooks," Wilkins said.

ISuppli noted that Acer trumped Dell and move into the No. 2 spot for the third and fourth quarters last year. With worldwide shipments of 11.9 million units and a market share of 13.4% for the fourth quarter, Acer overtook Dell for two quarters in a row.

For the entire year, though, Hewlett-Packard remained firmly seated in the PC market's top spot, according to iSuppli. HP had a 19.7% global market share in 2009, while Dell came in with 12.9% and Acer grabbed 12.7%. The top five were rounded out with Lenovo at 8.2% market share and Toshiba at 5.1%.

Dell was the only company in the top five to show a shipment decrease last year.

In what iSuppli called "a surprisingly strong result," the worldwide PC market last year managed to make a slight gain over 2008 despite economic turmoil and IT managers holding tightly to their dwindling budgets. According to the research company, PC shipments hit 302.3 million units in 2009. That's a 1% gain from 299.2 million shipments in 2008.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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