Apple drop to 5th in US sales chart; record quarter still predicted

Apple have announced record sales successes in recent quarters, but according to two research firms the Cupertino company is still unable to keep up with budget Windows-based computers when it comes to sheer number of sales.  Both Gartner and IDC have released their estimates for the past three months, and each reckon Apple have fallen to fifth place behind HP, Dell, Acer and Toshiba.

That's despite strong year-on-year growth, with Gartner estimating that Apple sales have increased 23-percent over the same period twelve months ago.  Still, in the face of 45-percent unit sales growth for HP and 71-percent growth for Toshiba – driven, both analyst firms reckon, but strong movement in the low-cost segment – Apple's expensive Mac and MacBook ranges have left the company trailing when it comes to sheer number of boxes shifted.

"The U.S. market last quarter continued to be very price driven. If a company is not in the low-priced market, it's absolutely difficult for it to increase market share. And Apple did not do as well as others in share because of its prices" Mikako Kitagawa, analyst, Gartner

Nonetheless, as we've seen in previous quarters, there's more to making a profit than shipping hundreds of thousands of bargain netbooks.  Despite not having cheap entry-level machines, or even discounting prices in the face of the economic downturn, Apple are expected to break their own sales records once again when they announce their results on January 25th.  It looks like there's room for one premium firm among the computer masses, and Apple have that niche sewn up nicely.

[via ComputerWorld]