Is Windows 7 stunting Mac market growth?

Hardware is making a comeback. It’s good for the economy. It’s good for us. Might not be so good for Apple.

Hardware is back on the menu, boys. Don’t take our word for it. No less authority than The New York Times says:

“On Tuesday, Intel, the world’s largest PC chip maker, reported the highest first-quarter sales, $10.3 billion, and profit, $2.4 billion, in its history. After digesting Intel’s results, a number of Wall Street analysts said on Wednesday that the PC market could grow as much as 25 percent this year.

Also on Wednesday, the research firm Gartner said worldwide PC shipments climbed by 27.4 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, surpassing expectations by more than 5 percent.”

The PC market is on the up and up. A sure sign that we will all be dancing in streets paved with gold as we hoof our way to jobs in space pods that pay us in Facebook tokens.

But, we can’t let it go at that because, we this is schadenfreude week at TG Daily. It helps with page impressions, and keeps the doctor away. IDC also has a report out on the first quarter PC sales. IDC says Apple’s growth is stuttering despite the growth in PC shipments. We like it when Apple gets more press for no real reason.

According to Investor’s Business Daily:

“Rival market research firms Gartner and IDC late Wednesday provided wildly different views of Apple’s Mac shipments in the U.S. Both say Apple is the No. 5 vendor, but their reports diverge from there.

Gartner estimates that Apple’s Mac shipments rose 34% in the U.S. to 1.398 million units in the first quarter. It sees Apple increasing its domestic market share to 8% from 7.2% a year ago. Gartner thinks that Apple’s year-over-year growth outpaced the industry’s U.S. growth of 20.2% last quarter.

Meanwhile, IDC estimates that Apple’s Mac shipments in the U.S. rose just 8.3% last quarter to 1.13 million units. IDC believes that Apple lagged the PC industry’s U.S. growth rate of 16.9% and lost market share. IDC pegs Apple’s first-quarter U.S. market share at 6.4%, vs. 7% a year ago.”

Ashok Kumar, an analyst with Rodman & Renshaw, tells the IBD (even its acronym sounds businesslike), Apple’s market share gains in personal computers “may have lost some steam.”

Unfortunately, netbooks and crappy form factors are also driving sales. Purists may want to consider them less than PCs, but we’re all clutching at straws in our personal dust bowls so, go with it.

In reality, it looks like pent up demand is contributing to the growth in the business sector. The recession made people hold off on purchases of servers and desktops, and they couldn’t hold off for ever. It’s all good. The sun’ll come out tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!