Apple Computer Sales Slow, May Have Dropped to Fifth Place

Apple has been facing a serious challenge to its energetic growth for the first time in several years.  First the recession sent consumers running from its pricey products.  Then a reinvigorated Microsoft launched an ad campaign, further cementing the price difference in consumers’ minds, leaving Apple begging for them to relent.

Now the major firms are announcing their sales predictions for Apple’s Q2 2009, and no matter how you cut it, sales are starting to cool for the company.

Despite the launch of new 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros priced $200 below their predecessors and its October price cut of its entry level MacBook to $999, Apple failed to gain traction in the second quarter of 2009.  According to market research firm Gartner, it recovered with a mere 0.3 percent gain in shipments market share, clinging to fourth place.  Meanwhile Toshiba, in fifth place, charged ahead with a 1.3 percent market share gain. 

Acer showed an incredible 6.2 percent rise in market share, thanks to the popularity of its netbooks, as it moves to challenge HP and Dell for the top spot.  Dell saw a drop, but remains just a hair ahead of rival HP in U.S. shipments, says Gartner.

IDC paints an even worse picture for Apple.  According to IDC, another market research firm, Apple slipped to fifth, losing 0.9 percent of the market — a 12.4 percent drop.  Meanwhile, Toshiba gained 2.1 percent, according to the IDC, putting it just at 7.7 percent of the market, just ahead of Apple’s 7.6 percent. 

IDC also put Dell ahead of HP, while showing similar trends to Gartner — a Dell decline and an HP rise.  According to IDC, Acer posted more moderate, but sizeable gain of 4.5 percent of the market.

Most of the charts are familiar territory — HP and Dell have long sparred for the top spot.  However, the two key sales happenings in Q2 2009 appear to be Acer’s continued rise to dominance, and Apple’s unexpected slide downwards.

IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell comments on Apple’s unceremonious fall, stating, “Apple’s cheapest notebook is $999, and most of the market is focused on products that are below $999 — in the $700 to $800 range.  Apple doesn’t play in that market.  A lot of people are perfectly content with less-capable machines, because they are good enough.”

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