MacBook Air demand trails that of original Intel-based MacBook

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Interest in Apple Inc.'s new ultra-thin and lightweight MacBook Air is running high, but demand for the new sub-notebook is noticeably less than that of the first Intel-based MacBook launched in May of 2006, according to a new report.



Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster and his investment banking team spent part of Monday afternoon speaking with 20 Apple specialist retailers in an attempt to quantify demand for the latest mobile Mac. He found that most -- or approximately 60 percent -- of those specialty resellers are seeing less demand for the MacBook Air than they did following the introduction of revamped 13-inch consumer MacBooks nearly two years ago.



"More specifically, [resellers] are noticing that customers are more curious, but less willing to buy the MacBook Air than they were the original MacBook," Munster told investors in a summary of his team's findings on Tuesday. "We believe the MacBook [remains] the most popular Mac."



The results of the analyst's survey weren't exactly a landslide either, as another 30 percent of the resellers polled indicated that demand for the MacBook Air has thus far been "similar" to that of the first Intel-based MacBook.



That said, however, the general consensus amongst members of the reseller channel was that the MacBook Air is too steeply priced for Apple's mainstream consumer base and instead has a smaller but separate target market. Of the 10 reseller comments Munster published alongside his report Tuesday, more than 50 percent indicated that high pricing of the notebook was a concern.



"The people that are interested in [the MacBook Air] are not interested in buying it," said one reseller. "MacBook Air is too expensive; it's kind of a niche market product," said another. Still others characterized the notebook as a travelers companion for "high income people," or a tool for "executives."



"[For these] reason[s] resellers indicate that sales of the MacBook Air have been additive to their overall Mac sales in the quarter," Munster advised clients. "The MacBook Air addresses the need for mobility unlike any other Mac, and as such we believe it is not cannibalizing sales of other Mac laptops."



Apple's aggressively priced MacBooks remain its most popular Macs.



On average, the 20 resellers polled by Piper Jaffray said they are expecting March quarter Mac sales to be flat sequentially. Specifically, 35 percent said Mac sales are up, 20 percent said Mac sales will be flat, and 45 percent said Mac sales are down.



"We are modeling for Mac units to be down 18 percent quarter-over-quarter in March," said Munster, who maintains a Buy rating and $250 price target on shares of Apple. "We note that Apple's reseller channel has struggled to compete with Apple's own retail stores, so the fact that the channel is collectively seeing flat sales may appear to be a positive for the Mac segment in March."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 189
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    I think we can file this one under the "well, duh!" section.



    Ultra-portable, ultra-lights, what ever you want to call them, are niche products in the computer market place. "Normal" laptops aren't. Anyone expecting the Air to be as popular as the MacBook is a moron.
  • Reply 2 of 189
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    I think we can file this one under the "well, duh!" section.



    Ultra-portable, ultra-lights, what ever you want to call them, are niche products in the computer market place. "Normal" laptops aren't. Anyone expecting the Air to be as popular as the MacBook is a moron.



    Damn, beat me to it.



    I was going to say...



    "Well, duh!"
  • Reply 3 of 189
    straskstrask Posts: 107member
    This model strikes me like a fancy German two-seater. Nobody expects it to sell all that much, just to well-heeled enthusiasts. But it accomplishes some technological breakthroughs and gets folks into the showroom.



    Does anyone even know what are the sales expectations for such a computer? What are the sales like for the top two competitors in this segment?
  • Reply 4 of 189
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    I think we can file this one under the "well, duh!" section.



    Ultra-portable, ultra-lights, what ever you want to call them, are niche products in the computer market place. "Normal" laptops aren't. Anyone expecting the Air to be as popular as the MacBook is a moron.



    Precisely. It is an entry into a fairly niche market - and by no means is the general portable market that market.
  • Reply 5 of 189
    shanmugamshanmugam Posts: 1,200member
    sales numbers will tell the truth ...
  • Reply 6 of 189
    Apple certainly hasn't made a strategic blunder with the MacBook AIr. More than that, often bleeding-edge technology takes a little time to gain consumer acceptance. You could say it is an "ahead of its time" machine



    Once you get a faster chip inside the MBA plus 128 GB of SSD memory and everyone has caught on to downloading movies from iTunes, this thing is going to sell in ever increasing numbers, especially if the price comes down.



    The trolls have failed to trash the MBA. Despite a huge amount of criticism, the only two things that stick are the need for a removeable battery and one more USB port. Personally, I can live without either, just give me a 128 GB SSD.



    One problem that no one has mentioned is availability. It is currently sold out in the UK.
  • Reply 7 of 189
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Of the 10 reseller comments Munster published alongside his report Tuesday, more than 50 percent indicated that high pricing of the notebook was a concern.



    "The people that are interested in [the MacBook Air] are not interested in buying it," said one reseller. "MacBook Air is too expensive; it's kind of a niche market product," said another. c][ View this article at AppleInsider.com ]



    [ Digg this story ][/c]



    Well - what do you know? So much for all the attacks last week.
  • Reply 8 of 189
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,770member
    Yeah, this is weird. Nobody expected the MBA to have the same kind of demand as a MacBook.
  • Reply 9 of 189
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Of the 10 reseller comments Munster published alongside his report Tuesday, more than 50 percent indicated that high pricing of the notebook was a concern.



    "The people that are interested in [the MacBook Air] are not interested in buying it," said one reseller. "MacBook Air is too expensive; it's kind of a niche market product," said another. c][ View this article at AppleInsider.com ]



    [ Digg this story ][/c]



    Well - what do you know? So much for all the attacks last week.
  • Reply 10 of 189
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by acknight View Post


    Precisely. It is an entry into a fairly niche market - and by no means is the general portable market that market.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post


    Yeah, this is weird. Nobody expected the MBA to have the same kind of demand as a MacBook.



    Yeah, this is a head-scratcher of a story.



    In other news, Final Cut Pro sales lower than iMovie sales.
  • Reply 11 of 189
    s10s10 Posts: 107member
    Common sense really doesn't exist in the US.. of course it has less appeal than the cheaper MacBook.. of course people who will never buy it will come to check it out and wish they could buy it if it was cheaper....



    I used to have a MacBook as a second computer, now I have the Air for me it is just bliss.. even after only a week I just cannot immagine switching back to that heavy macBook.
  • Reply 12 of 189
    I always find it amusing how people almost always trash the findings made by researchers... funny.



    I think what the article was trying to convey is that if the MBA had had a lower price point, a lot more people would be buying it.



    Also, just because someone says that the MBA is not selling as much (or as well) as the MB doesn't mean they think it's a bad product or doomed or whatever. OF COURSE the MBA will NOT sell as well as the MB. Most people aren't that bright and fail to see the logic in paying more for less (performance). As such they will not opt for the MBA.



    I personally am seriously considering the MBA, but I'll wait to see how the new MB and MBP look like when they hopefully come out soon!
  • Reply 13 of 189
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    I think we can file this one under the "well, duh!" section.



    Ultra-portable, ultra-lights, what ever you want to call them, are niche products in the computer market place. "Normal" laptops aren't. Anyone expecting the Air to be as popular as the MacBook is a moron.



    I completely agree. If they want to sell more they need to drop the price. $1799 is way too much for 1.6 GHz @ 4200rpm. And shoot, only 80GB hard drive?? An iPod has twice that. Sure it has the portability/coolness factor but that surely isn't worth the extra dough. Considering the intro Macbook is essentially faster and starts at $1099, on speed alone the Air should be down around $900. To have a premium of $900 for the thinness factor is ridiculous.

    If they would drop the price to $1200-ish that would be much more reasonable; they would sell like hot cakes too. It's not like the Macbook and Macbook Pro are that much less portable, ya know? Here's three options that are arguably faster/better:



    For $200 more you could get a Macbook Pro with:

    2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    2GB memory

    160GB hard drive @ 5400 rpm



    For $1674 you could get a Macbook with:

    2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    2GB memory

    250GB hard drive @ 5400 rpm



    Or cheaper yet, for $1549 you could get a Macbook with:

    2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    2GB

    250GBhard drive @ 5400 rpm



    I would never buy a Macbook Air for the price they have them selling for now. The only thing it has going is its the thinness, which is way over priced.
  • Reply 14 of 189
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    What?!?!?! Are they saying that a mainstream notebook at nearly half the cost of a niche machine is more attractive to the majority? I call shenanigans!
  • Reply 15 of 189
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by emoney35 View Post


    I completely agree. If they want to sell more they need to drop the price. $1799 is way too much for 1.6 GHz @ 4200rpm. And shoot, only 80GB hard drive?? An iPod has twice that. Sure it has the portability/coolness factor but that surely isn't worth the extra dough. Considering the intro Macbook is essentially faster and starts at $1099, on speed alone the Air should be down around $900. To have a premium of $900 for the thinness factor is ridiculous.

    If they would drop the price to $1200-ish that would be much more reasonable; they would sell like hot cakes too. It's not like the Macbook and Macbook Pro are that much less portable, ya know? Here's three options that are arguably faster/better:

    ...

    I would never buy a Macbook Air for the price they have them selling for now. The only thing it has going is its the thinness, which is way over priced.



    Mr. H never said that the Air should be cheaper. In this reality smaller, more advanced hardware costs more money. Based on your logic of priced based solely on speed, the iPod Classic should be around $50 comapred to the speed of the $1,100 MacBook or the MacBook should be $5,000 based on the speed of the $400 iPod Classic.



    There is a reason notebooks cost more than desktops, while being slower, having less storage capacity and being less future-proof.
  • Reply 16 of 189
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post


    Yeah, this is weird. Nobody expected the MBA to have the same kind of demand as a MacBook.



    Yeah, the MacBook will always appeal to the masses. The Air is a niche product, but we'll see when the numbers come out how well received it will be.
  • Reply 17 of 189
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,770member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iextreme View Post


    I think what the article was trying to convey is that if the MBA had had a lower price point, a lot more people would be buying it.



    But we already knew that. If a Lexus cost $10,000, they'd sell a whole lot more too.
  • Reply 18 of 189
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iextreme View Post


    I always find it amusing how people almost always trash the findings made by researchers... funny.



    I think what the article was trying to convey is that if the MBA had had a lower price point, a lot more people would be buying it.



    Also, just because someone says that the MBA is not selling as much (or as well) as the MB doesn't mean they think it's a bad product or doomed or whatever. OF COURSE the MBA will NOT sell as well as the MB. Most people aren't that bright and fail to see the logic in paying more for less (performance). As such they will not opt for the MBA.



    I personally am seriously considering the MBA, but I'll wait to see how the new MB and MBP look like when they hopefully come out soon!



    People are criticizing the researcher's conclusions, not his findings. The conclusion that the MacBook Air is too expensive is unfounded. This is a niche product, meant to appeal to a niche audience. Lowering the price of anything would result in more sales; implying that a high price is the REASON for low sales is a non-sequitur.



    As with all of Apple's notebooks, if you compare machines feature for feature, you'll find the MacBook Air is actually cheaper than most computers in that niche.



    The real problem is that the mainstream press will take this researcher's conclusions and start a wave of doom and gloom stories and Cube comparisons based on it. The Air will be the newest easy poke at Apple, when in fact, it could be selling in line with internal expectations.



    I'm convinced this very cycle is what hurt Apple TV sales last year.
  • Reply 19 of 189
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by emoney35 View Post


    I completely agree.



    You appear to be "agreeing" with something I didn't actually say.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Mr. H never said that the Air should be cheaper.



    Thank you.
  • Reply 20 of 189
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrjoec123 View Post


    I'm convinced this very cycle is what hurt Apple TV sales last year.



    No, no; what hurt the AppleTV "take 1" was that it was rubbish.
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