Dell Computer Corp. for the first time surpassed rival Compaq Computer Corp. in U.S. sales of personal computers, based on figures from July through September.

Dataquest Inc., a research firm, said Dell sold nearly 2 million PCs for a 17.1 percent share of the U.S. market, up from a 13.4 percent share in the same quarter a year ago. Compaq sold 1.78 million computers, giving it a 15.3 percent share of the market. Compaq's share a year ago was 15 percent.

Dell's sales grew by 62 percent compared with the same quarter in 1998. The other direct seller of PCs, Gateway, placed fifth overall but had the second-fastest sales growth, about 40 percent.

Worldwide, shipments of PCs rose 23.2 percent, to 28.6 million units, in the third quarter as U.S. sales were strong and demand bounced back in Asia, according to Dataquest, a unit of the Gartner Group.

"On a worldwide basis, growth continues to be promoted by a combination of lower pricing, economic prosperity, the Internet and latent demand in the Asia/Pacific region," said Charles Smulders, principal analyst for Dataquest's world PC program.

Swapping Places

Dell topped the list in U.S. sales of personal computers in the July-September period, pushing Compaq to second place. Here are sales and market-share data for the third quarter:

Company

Shipments*

Third quarter, 1999

Market share (%)

Shipments*

Third quarter, 1998

Market share (%)

Growth (%)

Dell

1,996

17.1

1,275

13.45

6.5

Compaq

1,780

15.3

1,426

15.0

24.9

Gateway

1,090

9.3

778

8.2

40.1

Hewlett-Packard

955

8.2

800

8.4

19.4

IBM

890

7.6

845

8.9

5.3

Others

4,955

42.5

4,385

46.1

13.0

Total

11,666

100.0

9,508

100.0

22.7

*in thousands

NOTE: Tables are PCs only (desktop, deskside. notebook, ultraportable, laptop and transportable). Server-marketed PCs are not included.

SOURCE: Dataquest