Mac Sales Up, But Netbooks Way Up

The good news is that preliminary estimates from both IDC and Gartner for the third quarter have Mac sales up and Apple ranked fourth in overall PC sales. The potentially bad news is that Apple will probably drop in ranking next quarter due to the increasing popularity of netbooks.

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Nonetheless, despite more unemployment and less consumer spending, Apple managed moderate year-over-year growth in both reports. Although neither Gartner nor IDC ranks Apple in worldwide PC sales, the U.S. market accounts for about 40 percent of Macs sold, so the numbers are instructive of the overall health of the platform. Of the two reports, IDC  shows more robust growth for Apple during the last quarter.

According to IDC, Apple shipped some 1.64 million Macs in the third quarter, up from 1.467 million for the same period last year, a growth rate of 11.8 percent. That puts Mac share of the overall market at 9.4 percent, verging on double digits not seen since the halcyon days of the early 90s. However, like 1994, before the deluge of cheap PCs with Windows 95, there may be danger for the Mac from cheap PCs with Windows 7.

While HP sales were up only 3.2 percent, and Dell saw its sales drop 13.4 percent, both Toshiba and Acer are up, up, up. On the steroidal strength of netbooks, Toshiba sales jumped 37 percent. With an 8.1 percent share of the market, the company will likely pass Apple in ranking next quarter. As impressive as Toshiba was, Acer was even more so. With sales up nearly 50 percent, Acer has already passed Apple and now holds 11.1 percent of the US market. Gartner tells a similar story.

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For Apple, Gartner estimates 1.572 million Macs sold in the third quarter, up from 1.471 million for the same period last year, a 6.8 percent increase. Apple’s share of the U.S. market is now at 8.8 percent, barely up from 8.6 percent last year. While both Dell and HP declined slightly, once again Toshiba and Acer are the big winners in market share because of netbooks, Toshiba up 45.8 percent, and Acer up 61.4 percent — that’s like iPhone growth.

The question then becomes: is the lack of a MacBook mini hurting Apple? In terms of market share, definitely, but as Mikako Kitagwa of Gartner points out, “preliminary research shows consumer mobile PC ASPs declined more than 20 percent compared to a year ago.” Netbooks are clearly hurting HP and Dell, both in terms of market share and profit. In contrast, Apple is slowly making gains in market share and continues to profit handily from its portable lineup, which starts at $999. Apple’s move to counter Toshiba and Acer will likely be the long-rumored tablet device, anxiously anticipated for the first quarter of next year.

As for the quarter just ending, Apple will announce its official numbers on Monday. As always, TheAppleBlog will have the numbers and pretty graphs, as well obfuscating quotes from Apple executives about future products.

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