Apple’s (AAPL) incredible Mac growth streak appears to be losing steam. Time for some updated laptops?
Recently, we’ve seen three data points estimating this quarter’s Mac unit sales. Two of the three suggest that Apple is going to have a second straight quarter of decelerating unit growth:
- Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says current Street consensus is that Apple will sell 2.65 million Macs this quarter, representing 22% year-over-year growth.
- Munster’s extrapolation of preliminary July retail sales data from NPD Group suggests Apple will sell 2.7 million to 2.9 million Macs this quarter. The midpoint — 2.8 million Macs — represents 29% year-over-year growth.
- RBC analyst Mark Abramsky says an RBC technology survey suggests Apple will sell 3.04 million Macs this quarter, representing 41% year-over-year growth.
For comparison, Apple sold 2.496 million Macs last quarter, up 41% year-over-year. So both Munster’s NPD extrapolation and the current Street consensus would both mark decelerating growth, while RBC’s guesstimate would mark flat, 41% year-over-year growth. (See updated chart.)
Is this bad news for Apple? Not yet — we’ll see where the quarter comes in, and more importantly, how holiday Mac sales go.
More than 50% year-over-year growth is rare in the computer industry, so it was never likely that Apple would keep that up, especially as the numbers got bigger. And anyway, Mac sales are still growing far faster than the overall PC market. And Apple is taking share from HP (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) — neither of which have seen 30% growth for a very long time.
What could accelerate growth for the December holiday quarter? Perhaps some new MacBooks, which Steve Jobs is widely expected to show off next month. Especially if they carry new, lower price tags.
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