Analysts pull Mac sales numbers out of a hat

IDC, Gartner can't agree on whether U.S. sales are up or down at Apple

Apple's Mac sales are up. Unless they're down, say analysts.

Second-quarter estimates of Mac sales by Gartner Inc. and IDC split yesterday, with the former saying Apple's numbers were up 2.5 per cent over the same quarter last year and the latter saying they were, in fact, down 12.4 per cent year-over-year.

"We may revisit our numbers next week, and get more aggressive," acknowledged Loren Loverde, director of IDC's quarterly PC sales tracker. Apple is scheduled to present its second-quarter Mac sales numbers and revenue on Tuesday.

According to Gartner, Apple sold an estimated 1.42 million Macs in the U.S. for the quarter ending June 30, a 2.5 per cent bump from the 1.39 million Macs sold in the same quarter last year. If accurate, it would be the first time since the fourth quarter of 2008 that Apple's sales have grown; during the first three months of this year, Mac sales were down 3 per cent from the same period in 2008.

IDC, however, had different numbers, and put U.S. Mac sales at 1.21 million, down 12.4 per cent from 2008's 1.39 million. "The biggest factor is that a year ago Apple was growing by 30-plus points each quarter," said Loverde. "It's very difficult to maintain these high growth numbers."

Wall Street analyst Brian Marshall, of Broadpoint AmTech, meanwhile, said in a research note Monday that he pegs Mac sales at 2.78 million worldwide. Apple, however, sells more Macs in the U.S. than in any other market.

IDC's estimates of Apple's sales dropped the computer maker into the fifth spot, behind Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Toshiba. Acer in particular, and Toshiba to a lesser extent, have benefited from the surge in sales of netbooks, the small, light and inexpensive notebooks, said Loverde. U.S. sales for Acer, for instance, grew 51 per cent last quarter, while Toshiba's jumped 34 per cent.

Apple has no product in the netbook category, a sin of omission in the minds of most financial analysts. Its lowest-priced notebook is the $US999 MacBook, a machine priced double or triple that of most netbooks.

"There may be a little pressure here for Apple from Wall Street," said Loverde, "but does Apple have to have a netbook? No, they don't. Apple is a very unique company in a lot of ways, and if you look at their whole history, people are always saying they have to do this, have to do that, but they've struck their own path."

That pressure to so something, anything, may be about to ease, Loverde said, citing projections by IDC that while netbook sales will likely continue to grow at double-digit rates, the continuing freefall in ASPs, or average sale prices, won't outlast the year.

"ASPs are falling about 15 per cent annually now," said Loved, but that type of impact won't stick around past 2009."

Even if IDC's numbers do prove out -- and end up closer to Apple's than Gartner's -- Loverde said not to spill any tears for the company. "The main point with Apple is that they're very well-positioned. They're not a run-of-the-mill company, and they've done well in the past. There's no reason why that should change."

On the plus side for Apple, Loverde said, is the recent price cuts to its MacBook Pro line. A month ago, the company dropped prices between 6.3 per cent and 28 per cent, with the smallest cuts at the low end for the 13-in. MacBook Pro and the largest for the high-end MacBook Air.

And a so-called "tweener" device -- priced between the iPod Touch and the low-end MacBook -- may yet boost Apple's sales volume, said Loverde. "It wouldn't surprise me to see that," he said. "But it wouldn't be a run-of-the-mill netbook."

Recent reports out of Taiwan have cited sources in the country's electronics industry that claim Apple has placed orders with a trio of manufacturers for components that will be used to build a small-sized computer or tablet with a 9.7-in. screen that would sell for about $US800. The device, which some have dubbed an "iPad," will debut in October, those same sources said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GartnerAppleIDCapple macbookapple mac

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?