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Q3 Notebook Shipments Top Desktops

El Segundo, Calif. — Global notebook PC shipments exceeded those of desktops on a quarterly basis for the first time ever in the third quarter, according to market research firm iSuppli.

Notebook PC shipments hit 38.6 million units in the third quarter of 2008, an almost 40 percent increase compared with the same period in 2007. Desktop PC shipments declined by 1.3 percent for the same period to 38.5 million units.

“Momentum has been building in the notebook market for some time, so it’s not a complete surprise that shipments have surpassed those of desktops,” said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for computer platforms at iSuppli. “However, this marks a major event in the PC market because it marks the start of the age of the notebook. The notebook PC is no longer a tool for only the business market, or a computer for the well-off consumer — it’s not a computer for everyman.”

Worldwide PC shipments rose 15.4 percent compared to the third quarter of 2007, with 79 million units shipped. The firm noted that the numbers exceeded its forecasted 12 percent year-over-year growth for the quarter. Wilkins pointed out that the PC market managed to deliver strong unit shipment growth during the third quarter despite global macroeconomic challenges.

The PC manufacturer rankings remained unchanged for the quarter. Hewlett-Packard maintained its lead in the market with shipments of 14.9 million units and a market share of 18.8 percent. HP was still followed, in order, by Dell, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba (see chart).

“The big news from iSuppli’s market share data for the third quarter was undoubtedly the performance of Taiwan’s Acer Inc.,” Wilkins said. “On a sequential basis, the company grew its unit shipment market share by 45 percent, and by 79 percent on a year-over-year basis. Acer shipped almost 3 million more notebooks in the third quarter than it did in the preceding quarter, with the majority of those 3 million being the company’s netbook products. Clearly, the company’s netbook strategy is paying dividends, with Acer now trailing Dell by less than 2 percentage points of market share for all PCs.”

Beyond the top five OEMS, iSuppli noted that Apple lost almost half a point of market share on a sequential basis at 3.2 percent, placing it seventh overall in total PC shipments. AsusTek’s notebook shipments helped to it surpass Lenovo to become the fifth-largest global notebook PC OEM though it maintained its position overall as the sixth-ranked PC OEM in terms of total PC shipments.

As a result of the better-than-expected third quarter, the firm said it slightly increased its full-year 2008 unit growth forecast from 12.5 percent to 13.0 percent. Its revised 2009 outlook calls for PC unit growth of 4.3 percent.