Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Latest statistics from two respected technology analysis and consulting firms demonstrate quite clearly why is shutting its massive $100 million plant in Winston-Salem.

The world’s PC industry is rebounding despite the global economic crisis – and Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) is losing market share.

In new statistics disclosed Wednesday, Taiwan-based Acer surged past Dell into the No. 2 global shipment spot behind No. 1 HP. Lenovo, which is based in Morrisville, remains fourth. HP also surged past Dell to take the No. 1 in the U.S. market. Shipments increased well over 2 percent industry wide in the quarter after sharp drops in the first six months of 2009 and a miserable Christmas season to close 2008.

Dell founder and Chairman Michael Dell has made quite clear that the company is diversifying. Last month’s whopping $3.9 billion deal for Perot Systems certainly made that new strategy clear. Dell wrote “RIP” on W-S 1 letterhead soon thereafter. The W-S plant primarily made desktop machines, and the world is going to laptops and netbooks, not the PC equivalent of the car industry clunkers. So, bye-bye W-S 1.

Meanwhile, the rest of the PC industry can find much to be encouraged about in the statistics from IDC as well as Gartner.

“Despite the ongoing mix of gloom and caution on the economic front, the PC market continues to rebound quickly,” said Loren Loverde, the program director for the Tracker Program at IDC. ”The competitive landscape, the transition to portables, new and low-power designs, growth in retail and consumer segments, and the impact of falling prices are all reflected in the gains by HP and Acer, as well as overall market growth.”

Note: Dell not included.

In fact, Michael Dell has been taking verbal potshots at netbooks even as consumers worldwide snap them up. (The Skinny has a new Lenovo netbook and it is a fine piece of gear.)

Over at Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa had this to say about the new statistics:

“These are good results especially given that PC shipments for the third quarter of 2009 are being compared to a very strong third quarter from 2008. Sequentially, third quarter shipments grew 18 percent, which is higher than the historical seasonal growth from the second to third quarter.

“The consumer market continued to lead unit shipment growth, driven by low priced mobile PCs,” she added. “Ongoing price declines continue to be a major issue in the PC industry. PC vendor performance cannot be determined solely by unit market share gains alone as related revenues and margin performance are key to surviving in very competitive market.”

Falling prices and margins are certainly contributing factors to Dell’s PC decision. There’s no doubt that PCs have become a commodity, and Chairman Dell sees more revenues, more profits, higher margins in other businesses.

However, the rebound in PC shipments as the holiday season and the launch of Windows 7 nears is a strong indicator that the smart companies with competitive products in price and functionality can make money.

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