Acer's PC unit shipments in the third quarter soared by 16.6% to 10.7 million PCs from 9.2 million the same period a year ago, iSuppli said. Dell shipments, on the other hand, fell 5.9% to 10.3 million units, dropping the U.S. computer maker into the No. 3 spot.
Acer saw shipments rise 31% from the second quarter, raising the Taiwan company's market share to 13.4% from 12%. Dell's share of the PC market fell to 12.9%.
"Acer's rise to the No.-2 rank in the global PC business reflects not only its strong performance in the notebook segment, but also the historic rise of Asia as a primary force in the computer industry," iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins said in a statement Thursday.
Acer's success is the result of its focus on low-priced notebooks, particularly netbooks, and strong sales in Europe and the United States. Netbooks, mini-laptops that typically sell for as little as $300, have been the fastest growing segment of the PC market during the economic recession.
Acer was not the only Asian manufacturer to have a robust third quarter. China-based No. 4 Lenovo saw shipments rise 17.2% year-to-year in the third quarter, the largest increase among the top five PC vendors.
Acer and Lenovo have been rising in the global PC market for quite some. In 2003, the companies were No. 6 and No. 8, respectively. "The Asian manufacturers are a growing force in the global PC business due to their aggressive pricing along with their ability to quickly react and embrace new developments, such as the netbook PC," Wilkins said.
Along with Acer's achievement, the third quarter also marked the first time since the fourth quarter of 2008 that PC shipments have risen on a year-over-year basis. Global shipments rose 1.1% from a year ago and 19% from the second quarter.
"The sequential and year-over-year shipment increases show that the PC industry emerged from the downturn and began to grow again in the third quarter," Wilkins said.
Notebooks have been critical in driving growth during the economic recession, the worst since the Great Depression. While other PC categories have suffered, laptop sales have maintained year-to-year growth during the downturn.
"This is a testament to the high value that consumers and businesses place on their mobile computing platforms," Wilkins said.
ISuppli expects the PC market to remain strong in the fourth quarter, boosted by the holiday shopping season and the release in late October of Microsoft Windows 7. As a result, the researcher has revised its 2009 forecast for PC shipments to a 0.9% decline, compared to a previous prediction of a 4% decrease.
Among the top five vendors, Hewlett-Packard held on to the No. 1 slot for the 13th consecutive quarter. Third-quarter shipments rose 7% from a year ago to 15.9 million units, giving HP a 19.9% market share.
At the bottom of the top five was Toshiba. The company shipped 4 million units, a 9.7% increase from a year ago.
ISuppli in September reported that the PC market made its first step toward recovery in the second quarter, posting sequential growth for the first time in six months. Our "A New IT Manifesto" report looks at a variety of new approaches and technologies that let IT rebels take on a whole new role, enhancing their companies' competitiveness and engaging their entire organizations more intimately with customers. Download the report here (registration required).