The figures are anything but surprising, and more or less continue the trends we saw during the third quarter of 2009. If we look at it from a year-over-year perspective, the fourth quarter of 2009 saw a 22.1% increase in unit shipments over the fourth quarter of 2008 (27.9% according to IDC). This is, of course, good news for the technology industry.
"These preliminary results indicate the recovery of the PC market on a global level," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, "The US and Asia/Pacific had already shown positive indicators last quarter, however the fourth quarter 2009 results were more concrete evidence of the recovery. The Europe, Middle East and Africa region entered the economic downturn later than the US and Asia/Pacific, so it has been slower to recover. The EMEA region returned to positive shipment growth for the first time in three quarters, and Latin America and Japan also recorded shipment increases."
The worldwide market share figures look like this (the decimal character is a comma, which is the norm in Dutch. I forgot to change locales):
"Shipment growth was largely driven by low-priced consumer mobile PCs, both in regular notebooks and mini-notebooks. As economic weakness continued, buyers became extremely price sensitive. Low-priced PCs were good enough for many average consumers," Ms. Kitagawa said, "Windows 7 was launched during the fourth quarter of 2009. Though the new operating system launch did not create additional PC demand, the launch was a good market tool during holiday sales."
Apple is of course not present in the worldwide figures, as the company would need to nearly double its worldwide sales before it enters the top five. If we focus on the US market alone, it depends on which of the two research firms you believe to know how Apple has been doing on the other side (my perspective) of the Atlantic.
Both IDC and Gartner's figures see Apple dropping from fourth place to fifth in US market share, losing its place to Toshiba, who, according to both firms, saw unit shipments grow over 70% (!). In Gartner's figures, HP, Acer, and Toshiba all saw a lot more growth than Apple did, who performed slightly below industry average. According to IDC, however, Apple performed above industry average, and was outperformed by HP and Toshiba alone.