Mac U.S. sales fall year to year for first time since '03

Netbook sales, down economy continue to plague Apple, says IDC

Apple Inc.'s Mac sales in the U.S. fell last quarter compared with the same period the year before, the first time the company has posted a year-to-year slide in six years, market research firm IDC said today.

"It's the first negative growth in the U.S. since the first quarter of 2003," said Doug Bell, an analyst at IDC. "It's been a long run."

IDC estimated Mac shipments in the U.S. during the first three months of the year at 1.13 million, compared with 1.14 million in the first quarter of 2008, a slip of 1.1%. Sales were also off from the fourth quarter, when, by IDC's calculation, Apple sold 1.25 million Macs in the U.S.

Oddly enough, the slower sales translated into a larger share of the total U.S. market for Apple. According to IDC, Apple accounted for 7.6% of the U.S. market last quarter, up from 7.4% a year ago and 7.2% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

"That was a function of a couple of things," said Bell. "One big factor is Dell's poor growth, which decreased the market size significantly, since they account for quarter of the U.S. sales."

Dell Inc.'s U.S. sales were off a whopping 16.2% year to year, and they dropped 15.1% from the last three months of 2008. Of the top five U.S. computer makers, only Dell and Apple had a sales drop during 2009's first three months.

"The 'Others' category, which is smaller vendors and white box makers, also was down," said Bell. "They had a tough time competing against the major vendors because of [the larger computer makers'] low ASP," he said, referring to the average sales price of machines last quarter.

"Some of that affected Apple, too," he added. "People are more price-conscious."

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