At the rate things are going, you may have no choice but to buy a Mac, even if you run Windows -- via Apple's Boot Camp feature or via desktop virtualization, of course. Though not a done deal, Hewlett-Packard said yesterday it was looking to exit the PC business, and Dell has been slowly withdrawing from the consumer PC market. With these two companies account for 30 percent of all PCs sold globally and 49.5 percent in the United States, you have to wonder who will take their place.
Lenovo is in the best position, followed by Acer. Lenovo is already No. 3 globally, at 12 percent, versus Dell's 12.5 and HP's 17.5 percent shares, according to Gartner's latest stats. Lenovo bought IBM's PC business in 2004 and is familiar to both consumers and businesses. It focuses on laptops, so those looking for desktop systems may be disappointed, but the number of desktop-style PCs sold continues to shrink. Lenovo also had the greatest growth rate of all PC makers globally.
Acer has tried for years to be a major player in the PC market, first with its own (well-regarded) laptops and then by buying Gateway and cheapo-PC maker E-Machines. It accounts for 10.9 percent of PCs sold globally. Asus, which makes netbooks (remember those?) comes in at 5.2 percent, tied with Toshiba, which makes business-oriented notebooks. Apple's global presence is tiny, so it has both potential to grow and a real uphill climb in doing so.
In the United States, the picture is a lot different. HP accounts for 26.9 percent of PCs sold, and Dell for 22.6 percent. No. 3 -- and the fastest grower -- is Apple, which now accounts for 10.7 percent of all PCs sold in the nation. Toshiba comes in a 9.6 percent and Acer at 9.3 percent; Lenovo's presence is tiny, as most of its sales are in its home country, China, and other Asian nations.
Then there's Samsung, which has been tiptoeing around the PC market through its Chromebooks running Google's Chrome OS and its Galaxy Tab tablets running Google's Android. Would it want to buy out HP's PC business and play all sides of the PC/mobile divide?