Apple’s new boss Tim Cook is well regarded for his obsession with micro-managing Apple’s end-to-end manufacturing and supply ecosystem and he’s been credited for running trains on time, especially since 2005. Apple’s ability to deliver products on time while tapping the economies of scale to gradually bring the prices down is nowhere as evident as with the Mac. At this month’s iPhone 4S presentation, Cook updated us on the state of the Mac. The slides he put up continued to impress. There are now nearly 60 million Mac users worldwide.

Now, it’s no secret the Mac’s been picking up a lot of steam since the Intel transition. In fact, Cook said, the Mac platform has grown by 23 percent since 2010, having eclipsed by almost six times the four percent overall growth in Windows PCs. But it’s not just this year. Every single quarter in the past five years the Mac’s outgrown the PC market. As a result, the MacBook Pro and iMac are now best-selling notebook and desktop PCs, accounting for nearly one in four systems sold in U.S. retail.

“For those of you who have been following Apple for a while, you know that it wasn’t too long ago that this number was in the midst-single digits”, Cook said at the event. Well, he wasn’t lying. IDC and Gartner yesterday published their preliminary computer shipment estimates, confirm the Mac’s resurgence. Key findings and tables after the break…

The MacBook Air led the “robust growth” in Gartner’s survey and the millions of iPads took toll on overall PC sales – but not Apple. Actually, the Mac maker “experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors in the U.S. PC market”, growing third-quarter shipments by 21.5 percent.

Gartner pegged Apple’s share of the overall U.S. computer market at 12.9 percent, while IDC came out with an 11.3 percent estimate. This puts Apple right behind market-leading Hewlett-Packard and Dell (#2) and well ahead of Toshiba, Acer Group and the Others.

Note: These estimates exclude iPad sales.

With iPad shipments thrown in, Apple beats Hewlett-Packard for the top spot in computers. Both Gartner and IDC put Apple’s lead over PC at 20-to-1 last quarter and 80-to-1 in the past 22 quarters.

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