Notebooks shipped worldwide between July and September amounted to 38.6 million, nearly 40 percent more than the same period last year, iSuppli said on its Web site Tuesday.
Shipments of desktops, on the other hand, dropped 1.3 percent year-on-year to reach 38.5 million units.
Worldwide PC shipment in the third quarter of 2008 grew 15.4 percent over the same period in 2007, said iSuppli. A total of 79 million units were shipped.
"Momentum has been building in the notebook market for some time, so it's not a complete surprise that shipments have surpassed those of desktops," Matthew Wilkins, iSuppli's principal analyst for compute platforms, noted in the statement.
He added that the bigger share of notebooks marked a milestone in PC shipments. "The notebook PC is no longer a tool only for the business market, or a computer for the well-off consumer--it's now a computer for everyman."
With a market share of 18.8 percent, Hewlett-Packard led PC vendors during the third quarter, shipping 14.9 million units. Dell was second, with just under 11 million units, followed by Acer with 9.8 million units. Lenovo took fourth spot with a market share of 7.5 percent, while Toshiba garnered 4.6 percent of the market.
Acer was the star performer of the third quarter, Wilkins noted. "On a sequential basis, the company grew its unit shipment market share by 45 percent, and by 79 percent on a year-over-year basis."
"Acer shipped almost 3 million more notebooks in the third quarter than it did in the preceding quarter, with the majority of those 3 million being the company's netbook products," he added. "Clearly, the company's netbook strategy is paying dividends, with Acer now trailing Dell by less than 2 percentage points of market share for all PCs."
Outside of the top-five market leaders, Apple was ranked No. 7 in with a third-quarter market share of 3.2 percent. The company, on a sequential basis, lost about half a percentage point of market share, noted iSuppli.
iSuppli now expects the PC market to grow at 4.3 percent in 2009.