Apple’s (AAPL) Mac growth took a hit in August, according to new data from research firm NPD Group. But September quarter sales are still on track to beat Wall Street’s expectations, and new Macs — which should boost December quarter sales — are reportedly on the way.
Mac unit sales increased 23% year-over-year in August, a deceleration from 43% year-over-year growth in July, according to NPD Group data analysed by Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster. Likely culprits: Stale Macs and a crappy economy. But Munster says the NPD data suggest Apple will sell 2.8 million to 2.9 million Macs in the September quarter, better than the Street’s expected sales of 2.7 million Macs.
A refresh to Apple’s MacBook lineup should help, and it’s supposedly on the way, according to Citigroup’s Richard Gardner. In a note today, Gardner says “field checks confirm” that new MacBooks are shipping from Apple’s suppliers, with an introduction planned for early next month. That’s consistent with other reports that Apple will announce new Macs on Oct. 14. Also consistent with older reports: The MacBooks’ new features, including “very thin aluminium casing, an LED-backlit display, and an aggressive entry-level price point.”
Why are Macs so important? While iPod growth has largely slowed, and as iPhone growth ramps up, Apple’s Mac line has been its strongest growth story. For the next several quarters, Apple will be relying mostly on Mac growth to fuel the company’s overall growth, so anything that can boost Apple’s computer business is key.
Meanwhile, growth hasn’t totally died at Apple’s iPod business. Even with old designs — which have since been updated — iPod sales growth increased 19% in August, up from 12% growth in July, according to NPD. Based on those sales, Munster estimates Apple could sell 11 million iPods in the September quarter, slightly above the Street’s 10.8 million consensus.
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