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Apple is now the fifth largest PC maker in the world, says IDC

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Q3 shipment report shows worldwide PC market contracting slightly

Apple is now the fifth largest PC vendor in the world, according to a new report. The Mac maker displaced Asus from the global top five in the International Data Corporation's latest quarterly PC shipment report, a study that says the worldwide PC market contracted slightly in the second half of 2014.

While the global PC market declined, the -1.7 percent year-on-year contraction was "a sizable improvement" over IDC's original forecast of -4.1 percent. It also shows something of a stabilization in the global PC market: in Q3 last year, IDC said worldwide shipments declined -7.6 percent after they were forecast to fall almost -10 percent. A recent Strategy Analytics report supported the view that the PC market was stabilizing, and hypothesized that sales will rise five percent in 2015.

The top five companies — Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer Group, and Apple — saw solid year-on-year growth in IDC's report, each increasing their shipments by between 5 and 12 percent from their Q3 2013 numbers. But although the top five PC builders had a good quarter, IDC's data shows that their rivals' shipments fell sharply, dropping 17.9 percent from the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2014.

Research firm Gartner's data showed ASUS in fifth place

Jay Chou, IDC senior research analyst, said that drop was partially caused by "weaker than normal" back-to-school sales. The report also notes that while emerging regions had a "disappointing" effect on sales, the higher demand in Asia/Pacific regions pushed shipments up slightly. PC shipments in the United States grew faster than other parts of the world, helping Apple push into the fifth spot. Apple has traditionally found its largest market in the US — in IDC's 2014 Q2 report, the company placed fourth in PC shipments in the country. IDC says Apple was also helped in its bid to crack the top five with "recent price cuts and improved demand in mature markets."

Contrary to IDC's data, market research firm Gartner placed ASUS in fifth place in its own report, with the Taiwanese corporation apparently grabbing 7.3 percent of the global market share. Regardless of Apple's number of global shipments, it's clear the company is far ahead of Lenovo, Dell, HP, and other PC makers in terms of profits. The Wall Street Journal quotes Toni Sacchonaghi, a senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., who estimated in January that despite a comparatively low market share of around five or six percent, Macs account for more than 50 percent of the PC industry's profits.