Mac Share Goes Down – Again

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We asked – could the recession help the Mac against the PC? The answer is no. Price pressure and the recession took their toll

Much has changed since 2007 – and most of 2008 -when Mac sales grew faster than the rest of the PC market by several times. In April 2008, Apple’s US retail share reached 14 percent, with notebook sales up close to 60 percent year over year. By September 2008, Apple’s retail share topped 20 percent in units and approached 40 percent in revenue.

More broadly, Apple’s US share of the whole PC market (including non-retail sales) reached 9 percent in the third quarter, according to Gartner. Then the US recession, and high average Mac selling prices took their toll. Mac market share declined to 8 percent in fourth quarter and to 7.4 percent in first quarter 2009. Apple has now fallen below its figures from January 2008, when its US share was 7.5 percent.

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In the third quarter, Mac sales grew year-on-year by 29.4 percent compared with 4.6 percent for the entire US PC market, according to Gartner. By fourth quarter, that growth had dropped to 8.3 percent, which was still much stronger than the broader US market – which actually declined by 10.1 percent. For the first quarter, Mac sales declined 1.1 percent, worse than the US PC market decline of 0.3 percent.

Down is the direction Apple is headed. As I warned earlier, Apple can no longer defy gravity’s pull — fighting global recession and competing with Windows PCs selling for hundreds of dollars less.

High price hurts in a recession

According to Gartner’s press release: “Analysts think that Apple’s relatively higher ASP created challenges for it in the tough economy, but that its deft control of inventories limited its shipment decline.”

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Gartner didn’t release global Mac sales numbers, just the United States, where Apple ranked fourth behind HP, Dell and Acer. The numbers aren’t terrible, they’re just not good. Gartner estimates that Apple sold 1.135 million Macs during first quarter compared with 1.225 million in the fourth quarter, when the economic crisis sapped PC sales. Actually, 120,000 units less than the Christmas quarter isn’t bad. A year earlier, the first quarter was 113,000 units less than the fourth quarter.