Acer computers, following a sales increase of 45.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, vaulted past Toshiba to become the third-place seller of notebook PCs worldwide, according to a report released Thursday by market researcher iSuppli.
This is the highest quarter-to-quarter growth rate of the top-five, notebook-PC OEMs, even beating market leader Hewlett-Packard's growth rate of 32.8 percent.
HP retained its first-place position of 21.4 percent of the global market for notebook PCs, with a 52 percent annual growth, the best of any notebook-PC vendor. In order, the top-five sales leaders of notebook PCs in Q4 of 2006 were HP, Dell, Acer, Toshiba, and Lenovo.
"Acer came, Acer saw, and Acer conquered in the fourth quarter," iSuppli principal analyst Matthew Wilkins said in a statement. "The company has been very public about its intention to capture the No. 3 spot in the mobile-PC market -- and the fourth quarter ranking shows the company is putting its money where its mouth is."
The jump in sales, according to Wilkins, was the result of aggressive pricing by Acer, especially in Europe. The Taiwan-based company's global share of notebook-PC shipments rose 3 percent to 14.3 percent in Q4.
'Rise of Asia/Pacific'
The report also indicated a longer-term trend of "the rise of the Asia/Pacific-based OEMs" for the PC market, according to iSuppli. Acer and Lenovo, both based in the region, grew in 2006 by 26 percent in combined desktop and notebook shipments over the previous year, a rate that is nearly three times the annual growth rate for the PC industry as a whole.
Together, they now account for 12.5 percent of the worldwide market for combined PC shipments, up from 10.8 percent the preceding year.
Wilkins said that "current market-share developments for the Asia/Pacific mobile-PC OEMs could give us a glimpse into the future of top-tier competition in the market."
China's Lenovo is still in fifth position of notebook-PC shipments, with 1.9 million units. This is up 9.1 percent from 1.7 million in Q3.
Dell's Sales Weakest
Dell posted the weakest sales of the top-five, notebook-PC OEMs in the quarter, down 1.5 percent from Q3. Acer is now within sight of second-place Dell, with about 3.4 million notebook PCs sold compared to Dell's 3.5 million units. Acer's 14.3 percent market share is just behind Dell's 14.9 percent.
Dell's competition with market leader HP is a key reason for its dropping notebook-PC sales, according to the report.
HP, which had sales of 5.05 million notebook PCs, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against Acer last week, contending that several of its PC patents have been infringed. Some analysts believe this is an effort to slow down Acer's growth and that it is protected by cross-licensing agreements.
Overall, notebook PCs had a growth of just over 28 percent in 2006. The iSuppli report predicted another strong year in 2007, with sales up about 24 percent to about 98 million units.