Acer and Apple have gained the most market share in PC sales in Europe, especially in the UK, while most other vendors are facing a difficult time, Gartner said in a research note on Wednesday.

PC shipments in Western Europe totaled 16.7 million units in the third quarter of 2009, a slight decrease of 0.3 percent compared with the same period in 2008, Gartner said.

Despite the overall downturn, Acer reinforced its lead in the summer to 28.3 percent of the Western European market, or 4.73 million PCs, based primarily on its netbooks and full-size budget PCs. Apple, too, was a winner, gaining significant share along with Samsung, despite that neither is on the top five in the region.

Moreover, Apple made particular strides in the UK, where it hit the top five list as it jumped from 3.8 percent of the market share to 5 percent. On the contrary, the other major Windows PC builders, including Dell, HP and Toshiba, lost 10 percent or more in shipments in the UK.

According to Gartner, Acer and Apple win the battle primarily because of their extreme price spectrum.

At one end, Acer continued to provide price-conscious products through multiple channels to attract a wider buying audience.

At the other end, Apple leveraged the halo effect of the Apple brand created by the iPods and iPhones into the PC arena, dominating the mid to higher price brackets.