Lenovo has lost its grip on the No. 3 spot in the world for personal computer sales, according to statistics from research firm iSuppli.

Acer, which has targeted Lenovo in a major sales push and has discussed plans for a possible acquisition to further boost sales, shipped 4.2 million units in the first quarter of this year. Acer is based in Taiwan.

Lenovo’s shipments climbed 16 percent to 4 million units, iSuppli said. Acer sales soared 45.8 percent from the first quarter of 2006 to 4.2 million units from 2.9 million.

“Acer has momentum [and] is competing aggressively, and its strong channel presence is clearly paying dividends for both desktop and notebook shipments," iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins said in a press release.

Acer’s market share also climbed to 6.8 percent, compared with Lenovo’s 6.4 percent.

However, both firms remain far behind HP (10.7 million units, up 26.5 percent) and Dell (9 million units, down nearly 7 percent).

Dell was the only firm to experience a drop in shipments. Its largest manufacturing facility is in Winston-Salem.

Toshiba is fifth, with 2.6 million units, up 13.8 percent.

Lenovo, which is based in Morrisville and dominates sales in China, where most of its operations are located, has launched several new laptops models recently and also is stepping up sales efforts globally with an emphasis on consumer sales.