Updated from 5:02 p.m. EDT
SAN FRANCISCO --
has made the Big Three club, according to the latest tally of PC vendor rankings.
The maker of the Mac increased shipments in the U.S. 38% year-over-year in the second quarter to claim the No.3 spot for the first time in recent memory, with 8.5% share of the U.S. PC market, according to market research firm Gartner.
At this time last year, Apple's share of the U.S. market was 6.4%.
Apple remains a long way behind No.1 and No. 2 players in the U.S.
. Dell's U.S. PC shipments were nearly four times as large as Apple's in the second quarter.
But the rankings mark a symbolic milestone for Apple, which has seen demand for its PCs boosted by the popularity of its consumer electronic gadgets like the iPod and iPhone.
for the No. 3 spot, with only 60,000 units separating the two. Because the figures are still preliminary, Gartner analyst Mika Kitagawa noted that it won't be certain whether Apple has broken the top three until final numbers are released in August.
The Gartner report said global PC shipments increased 16% year-over-year in the second quarter, as deep price cuts kept consumers shopping.
While there are fears on Wall Street that the challenging economic environment will cause consumers to hold off on PC purchases, the latest report suggests that PC makers are responding by slashing prices for notebook PCs.
"Mobile PCs continued to lead unit growth across all regions as the average selling price of mobile PCs declined sharply relative to desk-based PC ASPs" said Kitagawa.
The price cuts were most pronounced in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region and in the U.S. market, where Gartner described the retail space as having a "harsh pricing environment."
Kitagawa noted that even Apple, a company not known for bargain prices, resorted to price cuts on its notebook and desktop PCs during the quarter.
The report echoes comments Tuesday by chipmaker
, which cited
On a global basis, HP, Dell and Acer maintained their top three spots respectively, with all three firms boasting above industry-level growth