Acer could be in position to leap ahead of rival Lenovo to become the world's third-largest PC maker during the first quarter, an industry analyst said today.

Last week, Acer president Gianfranco Lanci said the company looked set to overtake Lenovo as the number 3 PC maker during the first quarter, which ends on 31 March. That has been a long-term goal for Acer, which hopes to take the number 3 spot before the end of this year.

"They've been setting their eyes on Lenovo for quite a few years," said Bryan Ma, the director of personal systems research at IDC Asia-Pacific.

During that time, Acer expanded aggressively, while Lenovo struggled to digest its acquisition of IBM's former PC division. Last year, Lenovo had 7.3 percent of the global PC market, about 3 million units ahead of Acer, which had a market share of 5.9 percent.

Whether Acer managed to surpass Lenovo during the first quarter remains to be seen. Official numbers are not yet available from IDC for first-quarter PC shipments, but Acer could be in position to overtake Lenovo because of seasonality in the Chinese market, Ma said.

Lenovo is heavily dependant on sales in China, where business slows to a crawl during the Chinese lunar new year holiday, which took place during February. "Lenovo always gets hit pretty hard during the first quarter," Ma said.

That leaves an opening for Acer, which could theoretically ‘slingshot’ past Lenovo into the number spot for the first quarter, Ma said. But he cautioned against reading too much into any gains Acer makes during the quarter based on seasonality.

"The full-year results are what really count," Ma said, adding that Acer's aim of overtaking Lenovo is "a realistic goal”.