The worldwide PC market grew in the last quarter but only because of sales of netbooks such as the Asus Eee PC.
PC shipments grew 15 per cent compared to the same quarter a year ago and manufacturers shipped 80.6m units in total.
HP retained number one slot worldwide but paid the price for its slow entry into the sub-notebook, or netbook, market - it lost its top spot in Europe. Gartner analysts said it was difficult to say if sales of smaller machines are a new market or are cannibalising sales of full-size, and full-price, laptops.
The crashing economy had an impact particularly on the US professional market. US home computer sales were also soft after several quarters of growth.
Worldwide HP shipped 14.7m units, for 18.4 per cent market share. Dell was in second place with 10.9m shipments and a 13.6 per cent market share, while Acer came in third place with 10.03m shipments and a 12.5 per cent market share, up from 9.7 per cent last year.
In the US Dell was in top spot with a 29.5 per cent market share, HP was second with 25.7 per cent and Apple in third place with 9.5 per cent. Acer was just behind Apple with a share of 8.9 per cent. The US failed to see the usual return to school hike in sales.
Mika Kitagawa, Gartner's principal analyst for client computers, said growing mini-notebook sales were best exploited by Asus and Acer and that slower moving vendors would struggle match their growth. Netbooks accounted for five per cent of US sales.
In Europe, the Middle East and Africa PC sales grew 25.9 per cent to 28.8m units. Growth was largely down to netbooks - because of this HP lost its number one position to Acer - Acer secured 20.6 per cent of the EMEA market compared to 18.7 per cent for HP.
Of course the downsides of increased sales of mini-notebooks for vendors are mini-price points and mini-margins. ®