Dell has long been a massive player in the computer retailing industry, second only to Hewlett-Packard (or HP to you youngsters), but it appears that they're about to be surpassed by someone quite unexpected. That's right; according to the NY Times (registration required), Acer is set up to become the second biggest PC vendor on the planet.
This is surprising for a number of reasons. Firstly, Acer is based in Taiwan; they'll be the first non-US manufacturer to reach that high in US sales, as Dell and HP are both firmly American. PC industry analyst and president of a consultancy named Endpoint Technologies Associates, Roger Kay, stated, "That is a big achievement, and they have beaten the odds. Acer is a real comer." As the NY Times points out, Acer has often worked with retailers, as opposed to competing against them; it certainly shows in their profits. Over the past two quarters, Dell's revenue from PC sales has fallen by about 30%... a pretty huge fall. HP have seen losses, at around 19%, but Acer has only been hit for around about 8% lost.
Acer has the benefits of being able to choose from whichever manufacturer they like, in order to get the lowest prices possible. As you can hopefully figure out for yourself, this is certainly a wondrous thing to have in the excuse for an economy we have today. In fact, the economy was actually apparently benefitting to Acer's rise to glory; during this recession, they have focused on building low cost netbooks. Dell has stuck to trying to sell regular computers, which is why they've sunk down a bit... people aren't looking to spend thousands on their next machine when they can get something cheaper that is usually just as good.
As it stands, Dell was sitting on 13.6% market share in the first quarter, and Acer had 11.6%; the former falling from 15% since last year, and the latter rising from 10.9%, of course. We'll see how this plays out by the end of the year.