Apple, Inc's double digit U.S. Mac growth contradicts IDC & Gartner reports of a Mac sales slump

Posted:
in macOS edited August 2014
Apple reported "strong double digit growth" in its Mac sales in the U.S., directly contradicting the earlier estimates published by IDC and Gartner that stated Apple's U.S. Mac sales fell year-over-year in the June quarter and calling into question the legitimacy of market estimates that the tech media uncritically presents as factual.

IDC Q2 2014 US PC estimates


Earlier this month, IDC (above) reported that Apple's U.S. Mac unit sales in Q2 (Apple's fiscal Q3, the quarter ending in June) fell by 1.7 percent, while Gartner (below) reported a drop in Mac unit sales of 1.3 percent. Both firms supplied slightly different estimates on both Apple's Q2 2014 and previous year Q2 sales, although their Mac and overall U.S. PC sales differed by less than a third of one million units in a total market estimated to involve around 16 million total PC sales.

Gartner Q2 2014 US PC estimates


In Apple's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, however, the company reported a major global surge in Mac sales. "Net sales and unit sales increased for Mac due to strong demand for MacBook Air which was updated with faster processors and lower prices in April 2014 and due to sales of the new Mac Pro which became available in December 2013," the company reported in its 10-Q.

Globally, Apple reported that Mac sales jumped from 3.75 million to 4.41 million year-over-year for its fiscal Q3, a unit increase of 18 percent and a new June quarter record. [Corrected typo in quarterly sales figure, originally stated as 5.41 million].

While Apple doesn't detail its product breakdown by region, Apple's chief financial officer Luca Maestri specifically noted, "we achieved strong double digit Mac growth across many countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, Australia, China, India and the Middle-East" during the company's earnings call."Macs have now gained global market share for 32 of the last 33 quarters" - Luca Maestri, Apple CFO

"This growth is particularly impressive, given the contraction of the overall PC market. Macs have now gained global market share for 32 of the last 33 quarters," Maestri added.

Apple didn't resort to channel stuffing to achieve record June Mac "shipments." Instead, Maestri noted that "we ended the quarter with Mac channel inventory slightly below our four to five week target range."

Record June quarter growth made up for plateauing iPad sales

Apple "had a record June quarter for Mac sales," Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in the company's fiscal Q3 earnings call, "with growth of 18% year-over-year in a market that is shrinking by 2% according to IDC's latest estimate. Demand has been very strong for our portables in particular and we've have had a great customer response to the new higher performance, lower priced MacBook Air. It was another strong performance for the App Store and the other services contributing to the thriving Apple ecosystem."

Cook also drew attention to the "bifurcated" market emerging for iPads, which have continued to grow rapidly in emerging countries and in particular BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) even as Apple's tablet sales appear to have plateaued in the U.S. and other advanced markets, contributing to a global overall slowdown in iPad sales.

While iPad sales retracted in the U.S., Cook noted that Apple's Mac sales made up the difference. American buyers opted to buy more powerful Macs, and in particular Apple's light and thin notebooks. As a result, despite iPad sales slipping globally by 9 percent, Apple's U.S. and Retail segment (most Apple Retail stores are in the U.S.) figures were both up 1 percent over the year ago quarter.

The iPad & Mac cross pollination halo

While consumers may likely choose to buy a Mac in place of an iPad or vice versa, there are also a variety of scenarios where one sale directly results in the sale of the other. One example is in education, where Apple is selling both Macs and iPads. Teachers can use Macs with iBooks Author to develop custom content for iPad.



"Macs performed well in the U.S. education buying season with double-digit growth in the K to 12 market," Maestri noted, "driven primarily by large deployments of MacBook Air. The Shawnee Mission School District in Kansas chose Apple to provide an entire solution that will equip every teacher with a MacBook Air and an iPad Air, every high school student with a MacBook Air and every middle school and elementary student with an iPad."

Additionally, in the enterprise where iPads are being broadly adopted for use running custom, internal iOS apps, companies are buying Macs to develop new apps, because iOS apps are developed using Apple's Xcode, which remains exclusive to the Mac platform.

IDC & Gartner seriously fumbled their PC market estimates

Apple's sales figures not only contradict both IDC and Gartner figures, but also both firm's market conclusions. IDC specifically reported that Apple's Macs "lost market share over the past year. In U.S. shipments, Apple slipped to become the No. 4 PC maker, dropping from the No. 3 spot to come in at 10 percent market share, a 1.7 percent decline."

IDC's incorrect assessment of Apple's double digit U.S. growth percentage as a year-over-year "decline" also calls into question its ranking of Apple as the fourth largest maker of conventional PCs in the domestic market, as the narrowest possible interpretation of Maestri's "double digit" growth would essentially tie Apple with Lenovo in U.S. sales, according to IDC's own figures.

More importantly, it also means Apple's Mac sales continued to outpace the overall industry. Both firms reported that Apple lost share in the quarter. However, IDC estimated the U.S. PC sales increased by just 6.9 percent. Globally, it reported that PC sales fell by 2 percent in the quarter as Apple's Mac sales grew by 18 percent.

Gartner estimated that U.S. PC sales grew at a slightly faster pace of 7.4 percent, still far behind the "strong double digit growth" Maestri reported for Macs. And Gartner's numbers portray Apple and Lenovo as being even closer than IDC's, suggesting that there's no way Apple could have experienced a "double digit" percentage in growth without surpassing Lenovo to become the third largest vendor of conventional PCs in the U.S., behind HP and Dell.

IDC & Gartner ignore iPads for good reason


In calculating their PC "market share" numbers, both IDC and Gartner include low end netbook and hybrid devices and Windows tablets. IDC also counts Chromebook web browser devices, but both firms exclude sales of Apple's iPad from their PC sales figures.

If they had included iPads and other tablets in their PC figures, they would be forced to recognize Apple as being the largest computer maker by a wide margin. Despite much media handwringing about Apple's year-over-year decrease in iPad sales, the company still sold 13.3 million iPads globally in the quarter, more than Samsung, Lenovo and Asus (the next three largest vendors, according to IDC) combined.

Canalys is one market research company that does report combined sales of PCs and tablets without excluding iPads, although it has not yet publicly released its figures for Q2. For Q1, Canalys noted that Apple was the largest global vendor of computers, with Lenovo in second place and HP, Samsung and Dell nearly tied for third place, with each selling about half the total number of computing devices (not including phones or iPods) as Apple.



Apple first surpassed HP in combined sales of tablets and PCs in the holiday quarter of 2011.

This was not due some obscure counting methodology by Canalys, but a reality acknowledged by HP's chief executive Meg Whitman, who noted to journalists in late 2011 that Apple might likely pass her company in computer sales in 2012. As it turned out, Apple did so that very quarter.

Desperate denigration data from IDC, Gartner and Strategy Analytics

IDC, Gartner and Strategy Analytics have a long history of presenting carefully contrived data in press releases clearly designed to flatter their clients and denigrate their clients' competitors, with Apple being a common target.

Beyond just serving the public relations needs of their clients, however, data promulgated by these marketing firms helped to obscure major shifts in the technology landscape, such as the clear and obvious shift away from conventional PCs that began with the appearance of iPad in 2010.

Thanks to regular press releases clouding the facts on phone, PC and tablet sales, there appears to be a mass delusion among consumers and journalists as to why and how Apple is earning the vast majority of profits in phones, tablets and conventional PCs.



In addition to excluding iPads from their PC sales (while counting Windows tablets and including every other new form of PC device), IDC has also (like Strategy Analytics) radically revised its tablet figures after the fact, inventing, for example, Samsung tablet shipments that retroactively disappeared in the next year's figures.

At the same time, IDC inflated its year ago estimates of the number of tablets attributed to unnamed "other" vendors by nearly ten million units, creating unflattering market share numbers for Apple in 2012, followed by unflattering market share growth figures for Apple in 2013, all coaxed from shifting numbers presented without any verifiable source. Apart from Apple, no other significant tablet vendor reports its unit sales.

IDC has also obscured the reality of Apple's iPad sales by comparing them to kids tablets and toys, in order to water down Apple's "market share" and imply that iPads are falling out of fashion--while distracting all attention away from the fact that nobody is selling premium tablets in volumes like Apple with margins like Apple.

Earlier this year, IDC was found to have added Windows 8.1 "2 in 1" PC notebooks into its reports of tablet shipments, another effort to portray Apple's "share" of the "market" as diminishing, and a direct reversal of IDC's staunch policy of not counting iPads as PCs, ostensibly because they are completely different product categories with no perceivable market impact on each other.

Bad market data isn't hurting Apple

IDC's latest tablet figures for Q2 2014 assert that an incredible 44 percent of the world's tablets are now attributable to "Other," a series of unnamed vendors who each must ship fewer than 1 million devices per quarter (the figure cited for Acer, the fifth largest tablet maker in IDC's numbers).

If the intent of these market research firms were to actually inform the public about market trends, they wouldn't need to jump through such logical hoops, invent contradictory market definitions nor invent or erase millions of "shipments" when nobody's looking.

Samsung, Lenovo, Asus and Acer simply can't sell tablets the way Apple consistently can--in volumes greater than ten million units per quarter. Amazon, Microsoft and Google--despite the best wishes of Apple's detractors--can't maintain shipments of even 1 million tablets per quarter to keep them listed on IDC's charts, despite heavy discounting, clearance sales and product giveaways on top of their already loss leader pricing.

Free Samsung Tab vs Nexus 7


The very fact that such a glut of "tablets" is being dumped on the market below cost should make it impossible for Apple to sell any iPads at regular price, yet Apple continues to sell iPads in quantities far above any other individual tablet vendor.

The histrionic efforts by these market research firms to minimize Apple's success may be fooling the audiences of people subjected to relentless headlines that regurgitate the idea that Apple is perpetually spiraling downward in "market share" at the hands of both big PC makers and dozens of tiny tablet vendors--even as Apple reports quarter after quarter of industry leading sales and profits.

However, apart from the truth, the primary victims of this sort of sycophant market data appears to be Microsoft, Google and their Windows and Android licensees, who have been lulled into passive slumber by soothing praise that tells them they are winning when they actually are not.

If Samsung financed the hogwash Strategy Analytics churned out throughout 2013, it should really be demanding its money back. And if Microsoft and HP are serious about cutting expenses, a good place to start would be terminating the propaganda-flattery that has dutifully portrayed their failed strategies as "winning" market share rather than losing control of the computing landscape to Apple.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 119
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    They each have Apple's calendar Q2-2013, which is Apple's fiscal Q3-2013, as being 1.7 million Mac units but I thought they had sold 3.8 million that quarter, and 4.4 the same quarter in 2014. What am I not understanding?
  • Reply 2 of 119
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Wonder if they could be sued… ‘Course “being wrong” isn’t illegal, but “being wrong such that stock is shorted” is.

  • Reply 3 of 119
    512ke512ke Posts: 782member

    Gartner is bad.  IDC is worse.

     

    They're actually worse than bad.  They're not just wrong, they are deliberately skewing the data.  There's no other explanation for a track record of wild inaccuracy.

  • Reply 4 of 119
    That isthe whole point how they get away wIth it. They emphasized u.s. market, knowing apple no longer breaks it up by region/country. They will claim that growth is all from china and the third world. No matter if cook says double digit growth even in the u.s..

    They cannot be sued, because after all it is just an educated guess.

    If and when the macs no longer increase in unit sales, they will claim a saturation point in china and the third world.

    I attended graduation parties this past month, and everyone one of the parent at those parties said that they bought a ac for their kids going to college.

    The press releases by the shysters are nothing more than to provide cover for the WS shysters to manipulate the stock price of apple apple and the mope tutors, making use of the control/influence they have with the pensions and managed 401Ks.
  • Reply 5 of 119
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    They each have Apple's calendar Q2-2013, which is Apple's fiscal Q3-2013, as being 1.7 million Mac units but I thought they had sold 3.8 million that quarter, and 4.4 the same quarter in 2014. What am I not understanding?



    They report US-only sales, while the 3.8m and 4.4m figures are world-wide, as far as I understand.

  • Reply 6 of 119
    constable odoconstable odo Posts: 1,041member

    Why is it that Apple doesn't explain this to shareholders or potential investors?  Why doesn't Apple attempt to confront these research agencies if they're actually lying about the data.  I know that Apple doesn't have to explain anything because quarterly earnings speak for themselves, but if these research agencies are fraudulent then they need to be exposed.  Why is that Windows tablets are being counted but not iPads?  iPads now run Windows Office so it isn't as though they can be considered toys if Microsoft is giving them acknowledgement as viable business computers.  These research agencies shouldn't be allowed to skew the numbers unless they're giving reasons why one device is counted but not another.  If I were part of Apple's marketing department I would definitely confront these agencies for giving out false information and demand a retraction or something.  Bad market data may not be hurting Apple to any major degree but it certainly could be taking away potential investors who might be interested in Apple if they were being told the whole truth.  I hate to see crooks get away with crimes but I suppose nothing can be done about it.

  • Reply 7 of 119
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Why is it that Apple doesn't explain this to shareholders or potential investors?  Why doesn't Apple attempt to confront these research agencies if they're actually lying about the data.  I know that Apple doesn't have to explain anything because quarterly earnings speak for themselves, but if these research agencies are fraudulent then they need to be exposed.  Why is that Windows tablets are being counted but not iPads?  iPads now run Windows Office so it isn't as though they can be considered toys if Microsoft is giving them acknowledgement as viable business computers.  These research agencies shouldn't be allowed to skew the numbers unless they're giving reasons why one device is counted but not another.  If I were part of Apple's marketing department I would definitely confront these agencies for giving out false information and demand a retraction or something.  Bad market data may not be hurting Apple to any major degree but it certainly could be taking away potential investors who might be interested in Apple if they were being told the whole truth.  I hate to see crooks get away with crimes but I suppose nothing can be done about it.

    How can they be proven fraudulent? These are projections and in no way are considered to be actual numbers. They can easily say compiled this data based on what they observed and stats coming through channels that they put into their algorithms. Who was that analyst that used to write in-depth reports for AI? He was very close many times and then he was very wrong. Do you think his goal was to bring up the stock so he could short it or do you think he made an honest mistake?

    I predict Apple will release an entirely new product category later this year but does that mean you can sue me if I'm wrong? Of course not.
  • Reply 8 of 119
    adybadyb Posts: 184member
    Why is it that Apple doesn't explain this to shareholders or potential investors?  Why doesn't Apple attempt to confront these .............

    I rather like the fact that they quietly shot down the IDC & Gartner conclusions by stating that they had double digit % growth in the US (& many others) rather than making a big song & dance about it.
  • Reply 9 of 119
    superdxsuperdx Posts: 67member

    Anyone in enterprise IT will know that Gartner / IDC and others like them simply are paid to publish their "reports". It's particularly worse with benchmarks. Vendors tend to pay anywhere from $50k to millions to secure more coverage (and thus more favorable bias) from Gartner.

     

    Since Apple obviously does not pay Gartner/IDC, you can see that the bias continues to be skewed towards traditional PC manufacturers like Dell even though it's obvious these companies have serious sales issues. 

  • Reply 10 of 119
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,188member
    Gartner and IDC are just shills for the dying WIntel PC monopoly. They are trying to pretend that the last 10 years didn't happen and that they are still relevant.
  • Reply 11 of 119
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,046member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

     

    I hate to see crooks get away with crimes


    I strongly advise you to avoid reading anything about the stock market.

  • Reply 12 of 119
    froodfrood Posts: 771member
    Without Apple breaking out regional sales, there really is nothing to support the authors wish that their data was wrong. If you read Tim's statement he never says the achieved double digit growth in the US. He says they achieved double digit growth across many countries, the subset of which includes the US. So basically China and India could have made up for the shrinkage in the US and his statement would be validly true even though it has a little DED like misdirection. He was also very explicit in stating 32 of 33 quarters of growth in *global* market share.

    If their numbers are pure fiction DED should get on the hotline with Tim and tell him to stop referencing IDC data in his calls.
  • Reply 13 of 119
    tcaseytcasey Posts: 199member

    these companies receive income from everyone but apple...so there is your answer.

  • Reply 14 of 119
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,127member
    frood wrote: »
    Without Apple breaking out regional sales, there really is nothing to support the authors wish that their data was wrong. If you read Tim's statement he never says the achieved double digit growth in the US. He says they achieved double digit growth across many countries, the subset of which includes the US. So basically China and India could have made up for the shrinkage in the US and his statement would be validly true even though it has a little DED like misdirection. He was also very explicit in stating 32 of 33 quarters of growth in *global* market share.

    If their numbers are pure fiction DED should get on the hotline with Tim and tell him to stop referencing IDC data in his calls.

    Actually, we know that the US specifically achieved double digit growth and there is no support for your interpretation. We don't know if if was 10% or 22% but it was greater than 10% in the US.
  • Reply 15 of 119
    freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,408member

    Great piece. Minor quibble: you have Gartner misspelled as 'Garner'.

  • Reply 16 of 119
    fithianfithian Posts: 82member
    Just outside of Wilmington, Delaware, is the Christiana Mall. There is an Apple Store there. I buy my Macs there, the most recent a MacPro. There is also a Microsoft Store a few stores away in the same part of the mall. Every time I visit, there are 3 or 4 customers in the Microsoft Store and 300 or 400 in the Apple Store. The Apple Store there sells more iPhones than any other Apple Store in the country. There are some reasons for this. Delaware has no sales tax. They have just about everything in stock. The staff are all well trained. On a regular basis, buses are run from New York City to this store so that travelers can purchase Apple products in bulk. My investment decisions depend upon situations like this, rather than the prognostications of ill-informed, paid consultants to selected firms.
  • Reply 17 of 119
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,146moderator
    There's a reason Apple lowered the price of MacBook Airs this spring. It was to create a space between the Air and the Pro. This fall, that space will be filled. With a re-introduction of the MacBook (neither Air nor Pro). This is the device that will carry that rumored 12" retina display, and, if my guess is correct, super thin, efficient, and silent piezoelectric cooling fans to allow the chassis to be thinner than the MacBook Pro's while still sporting a more powerful CPU/GPU than the Air.
  • Reply 18 of 119
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,146moderator
    Why is it that Apple doesn't explain this to shareholders or potential investors?  Why doesn't Apple attempt to confront these research agencies if they're actually lying about the data.  I know that Apple doesn't have to explain anything because quarterly earnings speak for themselves, but if these research agencies are fraudulent then they need to be exposed.  Why is that Windows tablets are being counted but not iPads?  iPads now run Windows Office so it isn't as though they can be considered toys if Microsoft is giving them acknowledgement as viable business computers.  These research agencies shouldn't be allowed to skew the numbers unless they're giving reasons why one device is counted but not another.  If I were part of Apple's marketing department I would definitely confront these agencies for giving out false information and demand a retraction or something.  Bad market data may not be hurting Apple to any major degree but it certainly could be taking away potential investors who might be interested in Apple if they were being told the whole truth.  I hate to see crooks get away with crimes but I suppose nothing can be done about it.

    If Apple were to begin refuting what others say about it, this would present an opportunity for many to simply invent stories and numbers expressly designed to draw Apple's refutations and to thereby draw information out of Apple that Apple prefers to not reveal. The game would be to come out with a cleverly designed bit of misinformation that would place Apple in the position where the misinformation could only be refuted through revelation of some secret Apple would not otherwise reveal. If Apple chose not to respond to this bit of misinformation after having responded to other misinformation, then the market would take this lack of response as meaning the misinformation represented the truth. Through this Apple could be damaged in the market much worse than it has been through its policy of never commenting beyond occasionally adding some color around information it deliberately chooses to divulge.
  • Reply 19 of 119
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 324member
    Both Gartner and IDC have been and always will be puppets of Microsoft.
  • Reply 20 of 119
    froodfrood Posts: 771member
    steven n. wrote: »
    Actually, we know that the US specifically achieved double digit growth and there is no support for your interpretation. We don't know if if was 10% or 22% but it was greater than 10% in the US.

    Lol since my interpretation includes both the possibility that there was or was not double digit growth its hard for me to believe there's no support for it.

    I'd be happy to move into the US double digit growth camp with any data whatsoever.
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