Back-to-school Mac sales outpace PCs even without white MacBook, free iPod touch

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Back-to-school Mac sales once again easily outgrew Windows PCs this year, even though Apple did not offer a free iPod touch and discontinued its education-focused white MacBook this summer.



Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis with NPD Group, spoke with AppleInsider this week about the back-to-school PC buying season. He said Apple's year-over-year growth seen this summer was aided by weak comparisons from sales in 2010.



"Apple grew much faster than the Windows notebook market did," he said.



Baker noted there's no evidence that this year's lesser back-to-school promotion, in which students and faculty receive a $100 App Store gift card with the purchase of a new Mac, hampered sales. In years past, education buyers were given a free 8GB iPod touch, which carried a $199 value in 2010.



"I think (this year's sale) was also kind of masked in the middle of the Lion release, and all of the upgrades they did over the summer," Baker said, referring to Apple's refreshed MacBook Air and Mac mini lineups released alongside Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in July.



Baker downplayed the loss of the white MacBook, which was discontinued in July, though it can still be purchased only by education institutions. He said the $999 entry-level pricing of the white MacBook as well as its replacement, the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, make for an attractive price point, but they just aren't big sellers.



"I think the $999 price point for Apple is just kind of a teaser," he said. "The sales of those kind of products aren't always as big as the hype might be."



Baker revealed that consumers tend to gravitate toward the $1,199 MacBook Pro, a model that he said is the best value in Apple's notebook lineup. The entry-level MacBook Pro sports a 13-inch screen and a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Sandy Bridge processor.



"Consumers are very smart," Baker said, "and they gravitate toward the things that are the best value."







As for the rest of the PC market, Baker said Windows machines got off to a slow start in the back-to-school buying season in July. However, sales picked up by the end of the season, resulting in a better year than most industry-watchers expected.



NPD found that back-to-school sales were much better than the first half of 2011, when retail notebook sales in the U.S. declined more than 12 percent from 2010. Back-to-school sales were propelled by a late surge in sales in the last two weeks of August, when sales increased more than 8 percent from 2010.



NPD's domestic sales data directly contradicts claims made in August by analyst Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research, who said that Apple had seen a "significant" slowdown in Mac sales since the end of July. The analyst cited "various tracking data" in reporting that Apple's back-to-school promotion did not boost sales as much as expected.



Instead, NPD's data suggests Apple is on pace to sell a record 4.5 million Macs this quarter, which concludes later this month. The firm's tracking found that Mac sales were up 22 percent in the U.S. in July and August.



If Apple does achieve sales of 4.5 million Macs this quarter, it would easily top the company's previous best of 4.1 million Macs. That sum was achieved less than a year ago, in the holiday quarter of 2010.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    He said Apple's year-over-year growth seen this summer was aided by weak comparisons from Mac sales in 2010.



    "Apple grew much faster than the Windows notebook market did," he said.






    Rate of growth, when compared to a "weak" time is not an impressive or particularly relevant data point. What are the actual numbers? Did Windows machines sell at the usual 20:1 ratio compared to Macs?





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, make for an attractive price point, but they just aren't big sellers.



    "Consumers are very smart," Baker said, "and they gravitate toward the things that are the best value."






    I don't understand his claim that the MiniAir is not a good value, nor do I understand why the buyers of the MBA 11 are not smart consumers.



    I don't think this guy deserves our ear. Mealy mouthed platitudes about sales, not backed up by any data, combines with backhanded compliments of supposedly "smart consumers" tell us very little.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    I don't get it. One story says that Mac Book Airs are selling fast and people love them. This story says they aren't selling well. Which is it? How are all of these analysts collecting their data?
  • Reply 3 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post


    Rate of growth, when compared to a "weak" time is not an impressive or particularly relevant data point. What are the actual numbers? Did Windows machines sell at the usual 20:1 ratio compared to Macs?











    I don't understand his claim that the MiniAir is not a good value, nor do I understand why the buyers of the MBA 11 are not smart consumers.



    I don't think this guy deserves our ear. Mealy mouthed platitudes about sales, not backed up by any data, combines with backhanded compliments of supposedly "smart consumers" tell us very little.



    I think his overall conclusion about mac sales is correct (based on some other tell-tale signs I've seen), but I agree his throw away of MiniAir is not born out by demand profiles I've seen reported and the decisions of value tailored increasingly to light and portable, even at the expense of some performance.



    bottom line- I believe the basic conclusion of effect, but not his assumption of cause



    ken
  • Reply 4 of 31
    (Stares at 13" Macbook Air)



    Perhaps the 11" isn't selling to students more than the 13" but the Air is in fact selling pretty well. I see the latest models (meaning the new wedge shape) everywhere now.



    I love mine.





    "This message sent from a Macbook Air"

  • Reply 5 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post


    How are all of these analysts collecting their data?



    Wait, you think analysts actually collect data before they make crap up?
  • Reply 6 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Wait, you think analysts actually collect data before they make crap up?



    hahahahaha
  • Reply 7 of 31
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,737member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post


    Rate of growth, when compared to a "weak" time is not an impressive or particularly relevant data point. What are the actual numbers? Did Windows machines sell at the usual 20:1 ratio compared to Macs?



    He's talking about the USA. Windows machines don't outsell Macs in the US by 20-1. 9-1 is much closer to the truth. But in education, Apple has a larger marketshare, about 25-30%. But what we're also seeing reported, but not in this article, is that educational systems around the country are buying a lot of iPads.



    This is just some of what I've been seeing.



    http://www.kmph.com/story/15389062/m...ming-textbooks



    Quote:

    I don't understand his claim that the MiniAir is not a good value, nor do I understand why the buyers of the MBA 11 are not smart consumers.



    I don't think this guy deserves our ear. Mealy mouthed platitudes about sales, not backed up by any data, combines with backhanded compliments of supposedly "smart consumers" tell us very little.



    He's right though. Most customers don't buy the lowest end model. Apple has stated that most customers buy a model up, Or load the lowest model with more memory and larger drives. If there's an option for a higher Rez screen, they often go for that as well.



    It's like iPad sales. So much talk is about $500 or less, but Apple's numbers show that the average iPad selling price is $640.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    Confused



    Didn't Microsoft offer a FREE XBOX as part of their Back to School Promotion?



    If yes, a small caveat to this story, no?
  • Reply 9 of 31
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,154member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post


    I don't get it. One story says that Mac Book Airs are selling fast and people love them. This story says they aren't selling well. Which is it? How are all of these analysts collecting their data?



    The pull the data directly from their anal cavities.
  • Reply 10 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    (Stares at 13" Macbook Air)



    Perhaps the 11" isn't selling to students more than the 13" but the Air is in fact selling pretty well. I see the latest models (meaning the new wedge shape) everywhere now.



    I love mine.





    "This message sent from a Macbook Air"





    I agree- both personal observation and reports of inventory paint a picture that both new airs selling through about as fast as production can pump out and initially were in back-order. The 13" selling better that the 11", but the 11" still well outpacing the low end pro, contrary to this report's implication.



    ken
  • Reply 11 of 31
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,737member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kenliles View Post


    I agree- both personal observation and reports of inventory paint a picture that both new airs selling through about as fast as production can pump out and initially were in back-order. The 13" selling better that the 11", but the 11" still well outpacing the low end pro, contrary to this report's implication.



    ken



    I read that the 13" pro is Apple's best selling computer. Maybe that's changed very recently.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    Apple seems to be the computer of choice among the college stydents as well as High School kids. Its obvious just walking around campus and seeeing whats going on.

    And needless to say these students want the State-of-the Art technology thats available.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    (Stares at 13" Macbook Air)



    Perhaps the 11" isn't selling to students more than the 13" but the Air is in fact selling pretty well. I see the latest models (meaning the new wedge shape) everywhere now.



    I love mine.



    [/I]



    Air 11 is weak and has little storage. It is a netbook for the wealthy in many ways. Even for basic tasks like typing and watching a video 13 inch is much more pleasant.



    If you compare Air 11 to 13 inch Pro, the pro kicks butt in all ways except portability. In my opinion extra 2 inches make up for loss in pixel density, but that is debatable. For the same price point you can get a much better machine in Pro lineup than in Air linup.



    Finally if I am looking for ultraportable, there is nothing better than iPad. It is light, small and can do garage band, imovie and even basic photoshop. And has a better battery life.
  • Reply 14 of 31
    It would be nice if you had the option of the iPod Touch or $100 gift card.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    onhkaonhka Posts: 1,025member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post


    I don't understand his claim that the MiniAir is not a good value, nor do I understand why the buyers of the MBA 11 are not smart consumers.



    He didn't claim that the Mini or MacBook Air was not a good value, nor that buyers of the MBA 11 were not smart.



    Key words stated here are, "Consumers are very smart," Baker said, "and they gravitate toward the things that are the best value."



    In other words, buyers of MBA 11's aren't stupid. The majority, if anything, would rather buy the MBP 13 but having dad at their side paying the bill, they are very smart to realize just how far they can go.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,409member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post


    I don't get it. One story says that Mac Book Airs are selling fast and people love them. This story says they aren't selling well. Which is it? How are all of these analysts collecting their data?



    See signature



    Where was that one analyst saying that Back-To-School sales were seriously weak?
  • Reply 17 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheff View Post


    Air 11 is weak and has little storage. It is a netbook for the wealthy in many ways. Even for basic tasks like typing and watching a video 13 inch is much more pleasant.



    If you compare Air 11 to 13 inch Pro, the pro kicks butt in all ways except portability. In my opinion extra 2 inches make up for loss in pixel density, but that is debatable. For the same price point you can get a much better machine in Pro lineup than in Air linup.



    Finally if I am looking for ultraportable, there is nothing better than iPad. It is light, small and can do garage band, imovie and even basic photoshop. And has a better battery life.



    The keyboard is the same size so typing shouldn't be different at all. Of course having a couple more inches diagonal is better for video. I've watch a lot of video content on my MBA 13 so far.



    I have compared a MBA 13 to Pro as I could have purchased either and I went with the Air simply because 1.6 lbs lighter and the faster SSD makes a huge difference in usability. I have an iPad 2 as well which is why I went with the 13" since my sub 10" and very lightweight device is handled nicely with the iPad.



    Here's what I love about the Air that you don't get with the Macbook Pro. When I'm done with it I close my lid and it sleeps. I know...a MBP does the same but what just gets my goat is that my Air ALWAYS fires up and is ready to get in 1 second.



    Any doubts about getting the Air ended in the first couple of days. Now when I get on MBP with HDD they feel sluggish because i'm used to apps launching in a bounce and i've got no issues with restarting my Mac because of the 23 second reboots and resume functions.



    The Air is a winner IMO
  • Reply 18 of 31
    kpomkpom Posts: 617member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post


    I don't get it. One story says that Mac Book Airs are selling fast and people love them. This story says they aren't selling well. Which is it? How are all of these analysts collecting their data?



    He isn't saying the MacBook Air isn't selling well. He's saying that the base MacBook Pro is likely the best selling model because it is the best value. In terms of storage, processing power, and expandability, he's right about that. Remember, he also attributed the sales increase to the new MacBook Air and Mac Mini, so they are selling well, too.



    My guess is that most of the sales that would have gone to the 13" base MacBook went to the 13" MacBook Pro, with the rest split between the 13" Air and 11" Air. The base 13" Air is also a good value. At $1299, it offers very similar processor performance to the 13" Pro or i7 Airs, decent storage, and adequate RAM. I've heard that the 11" Air outsold the 13" model in the 2010 version, but the 13" is outselling the 11" in the 2011 model, based on analyst estimates.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheff View Post


    Air 11 is weak and has little storage. It is a netbook for the wealthy in many ways. Even for basic tasks like typing and watching a video 13 inch is much more pleasant.



    If you compare Air 11 to 13 inch Pro, the pro kicks butt in all ways except portability. In my opinion extra 2 inches make up for loss in pixel density, but that is debatable. For the same price point you can get a much better machine in Pro lineup than in Air linup.



    Finally if I am looking for ultraportable, there is nothing better than iPad. It is light, small and can do garage band, imovie and even basic photoshop. And has a better battery life.



    The raison d'etre for both machines is portability, so in effect the Air is a better machine in its form factor. But we all have different purposes. All my heavy lifting is done on a Mac Pro, so the Air allows to me continue my OSX life when I am not at my desk. As others have pointed out, the speed of shutting down/restarting, and the ability to easily pick the Air up and move it about with one hand just makes me laugh because it is so easy. The chassis has a sturdy feel it to it that even the MacBook Pro doesn't quite match, and I think that 1.6 pound difference is a big part of the reason.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    Too bad the low end Mac laptop can no longer be upgraded. Yes, yes, you can replace the internal storage, but the permanent limit on the RAM just makes me shake my head.



    While the old white Macbook might be passe...at least you could upgrade it to 8GB of RAM.
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