Almost three years ago exactly, Steve Jobs took the stage at Yerba Buena centre in San Francisco to announce he was killing the traditional PC.Of course, Steve Jobs being Steve Jobs, he didn’t actually announce he was killing the PC. Instead, he introduced the iPad, a lightweight computer that looked more like a giant iPod Touch than a PC. And in his presentation of the iPad he zeroed in on Netbooks more than desktops or full-blown laptops.
Yet, here we are three years later and it’s clearer than ever the PC era is over.
Last quarter Apple sold 4.2 million Macs, missing analyst estimates by nearly one million units. Apple’s Mac business was down 16 per cent year over year on a weekly sales basis compared to the overall PC market, which was down 6 per cent, according to IDC.
Apple had a good explanation for why Mac sales were light. On the earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said, Apple announced new iMacs in October, but didn’t ship them until the end of November and the middle of December. At the end of the quarter, supply was “constrained” for the iMac. Apple couldn’t make enough to meet demand.
He then added that the 2011 quarter had 14 weeks in it, and the 2012 quarter only had 13 weeks. Additionally, channel inventory contributed to the difference in sales.
If you add all of that up, Apple’s Mac business decline wouldn’t have been as bad. It might have even been up.
Photo: Business Insider
But then Cook added two notes of caution for people expecting a turnaround this quarter, saying, “One, the market for PCs is weak. IDC’s last estimate I believe was around negative 6%. Two, we sold 23 million iPads and we obviously could have sold more than this because we could not build enough iPad Mini’s to come into a demand balance. So, we’ve always said there was some cannibalization there I’m sure there were some cannibalization of Macs there.”Right there Cook said the obvious. The Mac business isn’t as bad as the numbers look, but don’t get your hopes up for some massive revitalization of the business.
Photo: Business Insider
It’s not trivial for Apple’s Mac business to be worse than expected. On the call, one analyst pointed out the shortfall in Mac sales equates to $1-$1.5 billion. That’s the difference between beating Wall Street estimates easily, and missing.And while it’s been painful for Apple’s stock that it missed on revenue, from management’s perspective it doesn’t seem like a big deal. This is what Apple does. It’s happy to destroy the Mac business.
As Cook has said in the past, if Apple doesn’t do it, then someone else will. So, Apple is doing it.
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