Apple should worry about Mac sales, not the iPhone or iPad

Apple should worry about Mac sales, not the iPhone or iPad

Summary: Mac sales have flat-lined for the second quarter in a row. With Windows 8 on the horizon, somebody over at Cupertino should be losing sleep because of this.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPhone, iPad

On Tuesday, Apple published its third quarter results. While it wasn't a record-breaking quarter, the company still managed to sell a lot of hardware and pull in billions of dollars in profits.

There is, however, concern that Apple failed to live up to analyst expectation as far as iPhone and iPad sales were concerned. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research note that he was confident Apple could have moved 28 to 29 million iPhone units during the quarter, while Wedbush analyst Scott Sutherland estimated that Apple would ship 12.68 million iPads during the quarter.

While some of the analysts -- and no doubt their clients -- are disappointed, historical data shows that Apple's sales of iPhones and iPads remain strong, especially with so much chatter about the iPhone 5.

iPhone sales over the first half of 2012 were driven by pent-up demand for a new iPhone after the iPhone 4 had a longer than expected outing. A fall in sales was inevitable, but sales are still incredibly strong.

iPod sales continue to slide, but that's inevitable as the market became saturated years ago and the iPhone and iPad took over from it. I consider the iPod to be a niche product now, and I suspect that sales will continue to slide, with sales seeing a bit of a boost over the holiday quarter.

It's Mac sales that worry me. Sales appear to have flat-lined at four million for the last two quarters. Mac sales have paled in comparison to iPhone and iPad sales, but this sudden stagnation should be causing some folks over at Cupertino to lose sleep, especially with Windows 8 and a whole host of exciting hardware just around the corner.

Perhaps people are holding out buying a new Mac because "Mountain Lion" is out today, but if that doesn't shake up sales, Apple needs to be looking at ways to rekindle consumer interest in the Mac.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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  • Take into account Mac Refresh Rate

    If you had listened to the quarterly earnings call, Tim Cook mentioned that the Mac sales was a bit low as the Macbook lineup was refreshed only three weeks before the end of the quarter. And they reported that sales vastly improved after the Mac lineup refresh at WWDC. Also, the Mac has had a 23rd consecutive quarter where it outgrew the PC market, so i don't think their having that big a problem :)
    • PC Market

      "Also, the Mac has had a 23rd consecutive quarter where it outgrew the PC market, so i don't think their having that big a problem :)"
      Interesting that Apple always like to compare to all PC vendors, so they look good. But when you took those PC vendors individually, things looks a little different. For example, Lenovo grew 15% and shipped close to 13M devices. That's far better than Apple. Other vendors that grew were Acer and Asus, even though didn't do that well compared to Lenovo. And while HP slipped 12%, they shipped more than 13M of devices. It's clear that Apple PC's haven't been as successful as their iOS devices.
      • Linux got 52% of tablets...

        ...during Q1 2013, not just 43%. People forget too easily White-Box tablets, the fastest growing fragment of tablets - and they are almost entirely Android Linux devices.
  • Honestly

    I don't think they care as much about the Mac line and their goal is to converge the two technologies together.

    Think about it, if they cared about the Mac sales we would see a Core i5, 4 Gigs DDR3, 500 Gig Hard Drive Mac Mini for $400 but we will likely never see that.
    • No you wouldn't

      How are they going to get a 30% profit margin?
    • @Peter Perry

      The Mini has always been an afterthought. Too bad, because it's a great machine. I run 4 at work.
  • Could it be related to Ultrabooks?

    I had considered a MacBook Air to run Windows, but went with an Ultrabook instead. The early ones were no match for the MBA (e.g. inferior/flimsy designs, bad keyboards, buggy touchpad drivers), but they've caught up now, and are even moving ahead.

    The Microsoft Surface also looks like it could be a serious competitor to both the MBA (Surface Pro) and the iPad (Surface RT). It's of course too early to say with any degree of confidence, since it hasn't even been released, but if I were still considering an MBA, I'd probably wait for the Surface Pro, and compare the two before buying.
    • Microsoft Surface Presentation Fail
  • Nah

    Even if Mac sales are flat, that will still put them ahead of Windows 8.
  • It's the Osborne effect. Oppenheimer and Cook said as much.

    I looked at the charts as well, AKH. I wouldn't exactly say they have "flat-lined" especially when each QTR results are compared to their previous year's reports. (In that case, each QTR results shows gains over the past three years.) It is a nice trend.

    Besides, as Peter Oppenheimer alluded to, consumers are probably anticipating Mac refresh cycles, as they always do.

    Finally, as I currently do not own any Apple stock and so have really no vested interest in Apple as a viable company (except as a source of support for my existing Apple products), I offer this relatively unbiased opinion. I don't think Apple employees engaged in Mac Hardware products are going to lose much sleep over this Quarter's financial results. They might be losing sleep over the upcoming refresh products and trying to meet their internal deadlines, however.
    • Has Apple's product announcement/release strategy changed?

      The Osborne effect could be causing Apple to miss estimates and halting Mac sales growth. However, unless previous product announcements had the same effect (which, to my knowledge, they didn't), then the implication is that something in Apple's product announcement/release strategy has changed for the worse. Any suggestions as to what that might be?
      • No absolute reasons come to mind except

        Millions of other readers have noted that Apple met their conservative financial estimates for the quarter but did not meet certain Wall Street analyst's projections. In the past, those same Wall Street estimates were usually wrong as well but, unlike this time, the recent past Apple results greatly exceeded Wall Street projections. What can I say?
  • When all your devices are expensive...

    something has to give (at least for us mere mortals, maybe not for Mitt and Ann ) ! Android (phones and tablets) and Windows ( regular PCs and Surface devices) will likely begin to steal more market share away from Apple. Time will tell.
  • "Apple needs to be looking at ways to rekindle consumer interest in the Mac

    No they definitely don't. Mac OSX is a waste of time and they should just dump their lame attempts at being a 'computer' company and stick to manufacturing mp3 players. I would actively encourage Apple to hold the course and stay the heck away from computers. They have done enough damage already!!
  • the problem is that you're not very smart

    but don't worry, is your father fault.
  • Three things that Apple must do

    There are three things that Apple must do before I buy a 2nd Imac.
    1. Changeable graphics card
    2. Easily Accessible Hard Drive
    3. 8 Gigs Memory Standard

    If they can't perform this, I'm not interested in ever purchasing another Imac.
    These machines are way too expensive in their current hardware environment.
  • Sounds normal to me

    Sounds normal to me, in my opinion the the better products are the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. The consumer market is more thrifty now than before and the lower cost of PC's compared to Apple is making them more appealing. Contrarily the iOS devices are practically essential in business, my NPO just loves the things, I don't think there's a single person who doesn't own an iOS device of some kind.