“Two research firms that track the computer market said last week that Apple would move into third place in the United States behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell on Monday, when it reports product shipments in the fiscal fourth quarter as part of its earnings announcement,” John Markoff reports for The New York Times. “‘The Macintosh has a lot of momentum now,’ said Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, in a telephone interview last week. ‘It is outpacing the industry.'”

Markoff reports, “Mr. Jobs said that Leopard would anchor a schedule of product upgrades that could continue for as long as a decade. ‘I’m quite pleased with the pace of new operating systems every 12 to 18 months for the foreseeable future,’ he said. ‘We’ve put out major releases on the average of one a year, and it’s given us the ability to polish and polish and improve and improve.'”

Markoff reports, “That pace suggests that Apple will continue to move more quickly than Microsoft, which took almost seven years between the release of its Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems.”

MacDailyNews Take: “But, but, but” sputter the Thurrotts and Enderles of the world, “Vista was sooo worth the wait!”

Markoff continues, “Microsoft has also hinted that its next operating system, code-named Windows 7, would not arrive until 2010. At Apple’s current pace, it will have introduced two new versions of its operating system by then.”

“Vista, it has clearly not pushed up demand for new PCs as much as computer makers hoped. Last week, the research firm Gartner said PC shipments in the United States grew only 4.7 percent in the third quarter, below its projection of 6.7 percent,” Markoff reports. “That contrasted sharply with Apple’s projected results for the quarter. Gartner forecast that Apple would grow more than 37 percent based on expected shipments of 1.3 million computers, for an 8.1 percent share of the domestic market. According to Charles Wolf, who tracks the personal computer market in his industry newsletter Wolf Bytes, Apple’s share of home PC revenue in the United States has jumped in the last four quarters. In the second quarter, for example, the Macintosh captured a 15.8 percent share,”

More in the full article, including Jobs’ lament that with multi-touch, “people don’t understand that we’ve invented a new class of interface,” here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “RadDoc” for the heads up.]