Apple had an excellent quarter, with sales up some 31% in the fourth quarter of last year. However, that was not enough for the manufacturer to hold onto its fourth posistion at the races.
Mac and its creator Apple now sit in fifth position in terms of units shipped, something that will worry some. Apple is still growing its sales in both Europe and the United States. However, growth for 2009 in the United States was a weak 4%. Mac grew by over 13% in Europe in 2009.
Total PC shipments were the highest ever last quarter, topping twenty million. Apple came in fifth to HP, Dell, Toshiba, and Acer. Total OS X market share for the fourth quarter was between 7.4 and 7.5% for the fourth quater, which was below analyst expectations. Apple is still miles away from flirting with the ever attractive double digit market share.
Even though Apple is not growing as quickly as other manufacturers, HP was up 45%, and Toshiba boosted its sales by 71%, Apple still commands a much higher per unit price than its rivals. This of course means that while Apple is not growing its unit shipments as quickly as other manufacturers, it might be growing its total revenue in line with them.
Much of the growth in the PC market came from the recent netbook explosion in the PC market. The diminutive machines cost just a few hundred dollars and connect quickly to the internet, for simple computing tasks. Apple’s cheapest laptop rings in around $900, before taxes, and is thus priced out of the option list for many consumers.
Of course, Apple is not trying to fight for market share per se, they are content to work with higher end customers on the computing end of their business, and use that upscale cachet to hawk iPods and the like to the masses. Perhaps Apple will see a large rise in total unit shipment if their rumored tablet, actually exists.