Nearly five years since stripping "Computer" from its corporate name, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is enjoying new highs in PC market share.

According to GigaOM, new research from Needham & Co. finds that, in September, Apple accounted for 5.2% of the worldwide personal-computer market. Mac sales also grew 24.6%, more than four times as fast as the market average.

The last time Apple held so much sway on the PC market was 15 years ago, in the wake of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) release of Windows 95.

To be fair, Apple still lags PC peers Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ). Asian rivals, too. But the worldwide appeal of the iBrands is undeniable. Between 2005 and 2010, Apple's profit from Asia-Pacific sales soared nearly 3,000%.

Consumer enthusiasm is no doubt fueling Apple's gains here and abroad. But corporations are also playing a role, Needham says. Mac business sales zoomed 43.8%, versus 4.8% for the overall market. Sales to "very large businesses" improved even more -- up 56.7%, impressive when you consider that large enterprises have long been a stronghold for Windows PCs.

Can the trend hold? Why not? We've seen similar data here in the U.S., while informal studies have identified an increasing number of us who identify ourselves as "Mac people." Now we know why. Those mindshare gains have materialized as market-share gains.

Somewhere, Steve Jobs is smiling. Investors should be, too.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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