IDC has released its latest worldwide PC shipments for Q3, and they're not as bad as expected. While the PC market has declined once again, by 7.6 percent in Q3, IDC had originally projected a decline of 9.5 percent for the quarter. Conversely, Gartner says the PC market has declined by 8.6 percent. According to IDC, Lenovo remains on top worldwide with 17.3 percent market share, closely followed by HP with 17.1 percent. Lenovo saw encouraging growth of 2.2 percent worldwide, while HP secured a 0.4 percent improvement from the same quarter last year. Surprisingly, Dell saw its first year-on-year growth since Q4 2011, remaining in third position with 11.7 percent market share and an increase of 0.3 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

While the top PC vendors are hanging on, Asus and Acer are clearly struggling. Both firms reported heavy declines in the quarter. Acer's PC shipments dropped by 34.5 percent worldwide, and Asus' declined by 34.1 percent compared to same quarter last year. Those declines have allowed the top three to improve their market share overall. While shipments might not have declined as badly as expected thanks to an uptick in business shipments and Windows 8.1-based systems, IDC warns that it does little to signal any improvements in the PC market. "The third quarter was pretty close to forecast, which unfortunately doesn’t reflect much improvement in the PC market, or potential for near-term growth," said Loren Loverde, Vice President Worldwide PC Trackers.

Apple down over 11 percent in the US

While Apple doesn't enter the top five PC makers worldwide on market share, it holds the third spot in the US. However, IDC says Apple's Mac shipments dropped by 11.2 percent in the US, and the other top four vendors managed to report positive growth in Apple's home market. Lenovo saw particularly strong growth in the US, up by 25.8 percent from the same quarter in the previous year. Lenovo now holds the fourth spot in US PC shipments with 10.5 percent market share, just behind Apple with 11.6 percent market share. If the trend continues into the all important final quarter of the year then Lenovo might just pass Apple in the US.

Overall the results aren't very surprising, and the US PC market appears to be stabilizing with just a 0.2 percent decline year-over-year. It's still not clear when the overall PC market worldwide will stabilize, with consumer spending on tablets still hitting PC makers hard. IDC says there may be a small increase in Q4 for the US market, but worldwide it's less clear. Earlier this year the PC market saw its steepest decline ever of 13.9 percent, followed by a 10.9 percent drop in Q2. The latest quarter doesn't show any immediate signs of improvement, but if Microsoft and its OEMs are able to provide reasonably priced Windows 8.1 systems this holiday then the market might just be able to hold on ahead of another challenging year ahead.