Checking in with Apple: Price cuts boost iPhone sales units; Mac sales level out

Apple's iPhone price cut has boosted demand to a new sales plateau. Mac sales are leveling out after a back-to-school spurt.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple's iPhone price cut has boosted demand to a new sales plateau. Mac sales are leveling out after a back-to-school spurt. iPods are moving off shelves at a rapid clip. And Apple's latest iPhone software update may have shut down what was a growing resale market.

Those are the conclusions of Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who detailed his latest sales check in Apple stores across the country.

Here's the nutshell of Munster's findings as published in a research note Thursday.


Overall, Apple looks to be off to another strong quarter, according to Munster. He expects Apple will sell 1.05 million iPhones (all resources, Apple Core) in the September quarter. Demand in September was up 56 percent from August, but iPhone units jumped 200 percent plus after the Sept. 5 price cut. According to Thomson Financial Wall Street is expecting Apple to report earnings of 83 cents a share on revenue of $5.99 billion for the fiscal fourth quarter ending Sept. 30.

Munster is also projecting Mac units in the 2 million to 2.1 million range. A month over month Mac sales slowdown isn't worrisome given the strong back to school bump Apple got in August.

As for iPods, Nanos and Touches are in and classics are out. Among the iPod units tracked by Munster 39 percent were Nanos with 36 percent being Touches. Shuffles were 16 percent of units with 9 percent representing iPod Classics. "The popularity of the touch will drive the iPod's (average selling price) up. In fact, one store we visited was sold out of touches on Sun. 9/30," wrote Munster.

Munster also had some interesting comments about Apple's recent move to render unlocked iPhones inoperable. He wrote:

During our store checks we noticed many people buying iPhones in the maximum 5/customer allotments, which we believe were being purchased to be unlocked and operated on carriers other than AT&T. This trend was especially noticeable in the New York City stores, where one Apple employee acknowledged that customers were buying five iPhones per store visit in order to resell unlocked. At one point during the visit, the store sold out of iPhones. Judging from our checks, as much as 10% of the iPhones sold in Sept. were purchased with the intention to be resold unlocked. On 9/27, however, Apple released iPhone software version 1.1.1 and the update rendered most of the unlocked phones inoperable. In doing so, we believe Apple effectively minimized the market for unlocked iPhones.

Update: Munster's final point about 10 percent of iPhone sales were being purchased to be unlocked is getting big play from Russell Shaw, Jacqui Cheng and Katie Marsal. The figure is notable, but isn't it kind of moot now? After all, many of these iPhones were rendered useless with the iPhone's latest software update.

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