New quarterly data on worldwide PC shipments is a mixture of good and bad news for Lenovo and Dell.

Analyst firm reported Tuesday that both companies, which have major operations in North Carolina, built and shipped more machines in the third quarter, during which the number of laptops shipped exceeded desktops for the first time. (IDC reported in October that laptops surged ahead.)

“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, principal analyst for computer platforms at iSuppli, said in a statement “However, this marks a major event in the PC market because it marks the start of the age of the notebook. 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.”

, the world’s fourth-largest PC builder, increased shipments by 7.3 percent in the third quarter.

, which maintains its largest plant in Winston-Salem, upped shipments at an even better pace – 10.7 percent.

However, Dell’s hold on the No. 2 spot behind world leader HP is now at risk as Acer shipments skyrocketed nearly 79 percent based on sales of the new, smaller, cheaper “netbook” models. Overall shipments of PCs increased more than 15 percent to nearly 80 million. ISupply had predicted a 12 percent increase.

Despite the good news on growth, Lenovo, which maintains its headquarters in Morrisville, did lag behind other major manufacturers in rate of increase.

HP remains the world leader in PC market share at 18.8 percent. It increased shipments in the quarter by 13.5 percent, reaching nearly 14.9 million.

Dell was second at 13.9 percent share and virtually 11 million machines shipped.

Acer surged to 9.7 million units and 12.2 percent share.

Lenovo was credited with 5.9 million PCs shipped. Its global share is 7.5 percent.

Toshiba is fifth at 4.8 percent with 3.7 million PCs shipped in the quarter, an increase of almost 25 percent.

Notebook shipments jumped nearly 40 percent to 38.6 million in the quarter while PC shipments fell just over 1 percent to 38.5 million.

Given the current economic downturn, iSuppli is predicting only a 4.3 percent increase in PC shipments in 2009.