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Dell Surrenders #2 In Notebook Market

Austin (TX) - Thanks to the notebook, the PC market remains brisk and virtually all big manufacturers are taking advantage of this trend. Growth rates are deep in the double digits and the market is reorganizing itself: HP dominates and Acer has surpassed Dell to become the world’s second largest vendor.

The news, based on a Q4 2007 market estimate published by DisplaySearch, may not go down well with once has been the leading PC manufacturer. A unit growth of 32% year over year, which means that Dell shipped more than 4.6 million notebooks in the fourth quarter, was not enough to hold on to position #2 in the ranking. Even worse, the gap to HP is wider than ever before.

HP saw its notebook shipments climb 42% to 6.7 million units in Q4. Acer grew by 32% and was estimated at about 5.3 million units. In fairness, it needs to be noted that Acer’s shipments now include Gateway PCs, which were high enough to enable Acer to comfortably pass Dell’s Q4 shipments. Following Dell in #3 are Toshiba (+24% to 2.86 million units), Lenovo (+38% to 2.73 million), Fujitsu-Siemens (+30% to 1.62 million), Sony (+35% to 1.59 million) and Asus (+50% to 1.56 million).

Apple is listed at #8 with a Q4 gain of 38% to 1.34 million notebooks. It is interesting to note that DisplaySearch estimates Apple’s market share in the notebook segment at 4.1%, which is significantly higher than Apple’s estimated share of 2.9% in the PC market overall.

If positioning in the notebook market is any indication for a PC manufacturer’s future growth opportunity in this PC market, then Apple should continue to do well. Unfortunately, DisplaySearch did not provide a market estimate for the PC market as a whole, but if we assume that iSuppli’s PC market estimate is even remotely comparable to DisplaySearch’ numbers, it becomes apparent that the current PC market is separated by vendors who either align themselves with the current market requirements and those who are betting on the notebook as growth driver.

Putting the DisplaySearch and iSuppli numbers next to each other, it appears that notebooks how hold about 43% of the overall global PC market. HP, Dell and Lenovo shipments are very close to this level, with estimated notebook shares of 46%, 41% and 47%, respectively. Acer, Apple and Toshiba appear to be far away from such a balanced share and are apparently focusing on the notebook: 73% of shipped Acer PCs, 61% of Apple PCs and 93% of Toshiba systems were notebooks in the fourth quarter of last year.