* Acer claims No. 2 spot on global list
* PC market recovery continuing-IDC
* HP increases market share to 20.2 pct (Leads on Acer taking number 2 spot)
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Taiwan's Acer Inc 2353.TW surpassed Dell Inc DELL.O to become the world's No. 2 PC maker in the third quarter as worldwide industry sales proved surprisingly strong, spurring hopes that demand is rebounding.
Global personal computer shipments inched up 2.3 percent in the third quarter to 78.1 million units as the sector continued its gradual recovery, with all regions except Japan either meeting or surpassing expectations, according to industry tracker IDC.
The research house had forecast a decline of 2.9 percent.
Analysts said aggressive pricing from Acer and top PC maker Hewlett-Packard HPQ.N and good consumer demand helped both companies grab market share, while business-dependent Dell continued its slide down the global rankings.
HP grew shipments by 9.3 percent, IDC said, and increased its industry-leading market share to 20.2 percent. HP toppled Dell from the top spot in 2006, and has been busy taking market share throughout the economic downturn.
Acer, the upstart that has steadily gained on the leaders, has benefited from the popularity of netbooks, or cheap no-frills laptops meant for surfing the Web. It kept up its meteoric rise, with shipments rising 25.6 percent, propelling it into second place with a market share of 14 percent. [ID:nLE284265]
Acer, founded in the 1980s by Taiwanese tech entrepreneur Stan Shih, began life as an electronic parts supplier, cemented its global venture into PCs when it bought Texas Instruments' TXN.N mobile PC arm in the late 1990s.
Over the past few years, Acer acquired PC makers Gateway and Packard-Bell, dramatically expanding its footprint in the U.S. market and narrowing the gap with HP and Dell.
Dell’s struggles continued in the third quarter, with shipments declining 8.4 percent. The bulk of the company’s sales are made to corporate and institutional customers, which were severely impacted by the recession and have not bounced back the way consumer sales have.
Yet it has publicly expressed little concern, emphasizing “profit share” over market share, and deriding netbooks as poor substitutes for standard PCs.
IDC analyst Jay Chou said the third-quarter numbers “bode well” for the remainder of the year.
“The recovery is happening sooner than expected,” he said. “The decline certainly lasted a lot shorter than people had thought.”
Shipments of low-cost PCs and netbooks continued to bolster overall sector. Although IDC has not yet compiled data on the quarter’s pricing, Chou said “ASPs (average selling prices) are taking a big hit.”
But the unit growth in the third quarter was still an encouraging sign following year-over-year declines in the previous two quarters of 2009.
Separately, industry tracker Gartner reported a better-than-expected 0.5 percent increase in global PC sales.
Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said the results were good, but in a statement cautioned that, “Ongoing price declines continue to be a major issue in the PC industry. PC vendor performance cannot be determined solely by unit market share gains alone.”
Third-quarter PC shipments in the United States were slightly ahead of the overall market, rising 2.5 percent. HP and Dell were neck-and-neck for the lead in the market, with each claiming around one-quarter.
Although Apple Inc AAPL.O does not rank in the top 5 worldwide, it is No. 4 in the United States with a 9.4 percent market market share. The Mac maker has been making steady share gains for years and continued to outpace the market, with shipments rising 11.8 percent. (Reporting by Gabriel Madway, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.