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Mac Unit Growth Remains Impressive Despite iPad

Apple’s Mac units continue to climb at a healthy rate, but the iPad is having an affect, just not a big one yet.

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Still, the iPad does appear to be slowing Mac growth down. Apple’s Mac growth in the previous sequence of quarters (Quarter 2-3) was 18 percent, with the company shipping actually 430,000 more Macs that quarter than the one previous.

And each year Apple typically experiences less Mac demand in Quarter 2, the one immediately following the holiday shopping season. In both 2009 and 2010 Mac shipments declined sequentially by about 12 percent from the holiday quarter (Quarter 1 for Apple) and the quarter following it.

Year to Year Growth Better

On a Year to Year basis Apple’s Mac units grew by 27.8 percent this quarter. This is a very healthy growth basis for a company whose “legacy” product line matters and will continue to benefit from Apple’s newer iOS product lines. Previous to this quarter year-over-year Mac units have been growing at a steady 33 percent each quarter. It will be interesting to see if Apple can improve on this figure for the upcoming holiday quarter.

And bear in mind that Apple’s Mac growth rate on a yearly basis at 27.8 percent is nearly double the projected 15 percent PC growth basis for 2010 as reported early in September. So while Mac growth may be slowing a tad because of iPad it still outshines PC growth rates by a long shot.

Closing Thoughts

Apple’s iPhone clearly shines this quarter with essentially doubling its shipment of units on a year-over-year basis. Much remains to be seen of how the Mac will fare against two phenomena now: the “halo effect” of iPod/iPhone and the “cannibal effect” of the iPad.

But analysts and pundits shouldn’t worry too much about this. Most customers don’t walk into the Apple store and say, “do I want to buy a Mac or an iPad?” Quite a few are actually Mac owners and are walking in and saying, “I’ll update my Mac later, I want to buy an iPad today because that’s what’s new.”  And some, are walking in and buying both a Mac and and iPad.

Finally, as the iPad takes off and surpasses Macs in both revenue and units, expect Apple to continue to merge technologies of its newer iOS devices with the Mac products, thereby blending and blurring the distinction between the two. iOS device owners will continue to see the Mac as an extension of the Apple iOS products they own and love today and will continue to migrate over away from Windows.

Our projection for Mac shipments in the upcoming holiday quarter is 4.4 million units, based on a 14 percent sequential growth rate quarter to quarter. Yes, we are bullish!

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Reader Comments

  1. A couple of notes to add to this story. Firstly, the presence of AutoCAD for Mac will open the doors for many users to move to the Mac OS X platform where prior to this they have not been able to do so. Secondly, the presence of a true Mac version of Outlook has prevented Windows users from moving to the Mac also. Both of these two changes in the Mac eco-system have been cited lately in our discussions with major companies as having a significant factor on Mac growth going forward. Both are heavily used in higher education, schools and in enterprise corporations.

  2. We noted in the story that earlier this year PC growth was being pegged for all of 2010 at about 20 percent. Now back in September it was shaping up to be around 15 percent. That is substantial drop, a trending downward over the past two quarters. What impact has that had on Apple’s Mac unit sales growth? Previous to this quarter nearly all quarters over the past year have had exactly 33 percent y-y sales growth. Now in the latest quarter we experience just under 28 percent (27.8 to be exact). How much of this is “industry slow-down” versus impact from iPad? My guess is most of that five percent is iPad but that at least 1-2 percent is industry slow-down.

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