Update: Apple sells 2.5M Macs in Q3, sets new single-quarter record

Boasts year-to-year gain of 41%, hints at new systems to come

Apple Inc. sold nearly 2.5 million Macs in its third fiscal quarter, the company reported today, setting a single-quarter record by selling 8% more machines than its previous best three-month span.

The company sold 943,000 desktops and 1.55 million notebooks in April, May and June, increases of 49% and 37%, respectively, over the same quarter last year. In the third fiscal quarter of 2007, Apple sold 634,000 desktops and 1.13 million notebooks.

Overall, Mac sales were up 41% year-to-year, a growth rate even stronger than the estimates published last week by research firms IDC and Gartner Inc. Revenues from Mac computer sales, which totaled $3.6 billion for the quarter, were 43% above over the same period last year, and accounted for 48% of Apple's total revenues of $7.5 billion for the quarter.

"We set a new record for Mac sales," said CEO Steve Jobs in a statement issued just before the company held a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

Apple's previous record for Mac sales was the 2.3 million sold in the company's first fiscal quarter -- the last three calendar months of 2007. During that quarter, the company sold 977,000 desktops and 1.34 million notebooks.

"What we can say about Mac sales is that they're continuing to accelerate," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. "Growth rates like this are insanely great, and it shows that people are continuing to snap these things up."

The numbers, Gottheil added, are a reminder that "this is still a personal computer company. The iMac has been doing fabulously, with a growth rate north of 40% for three consecutive quarters, and the notebooks have been north of 40% for four consecutive quarters."

He attributed much of the strong showing to Apple's own chain of retail stores; it has 188 in the U.S. alone.

"It's the retail, stupid," said Gottheil. "You buy it because there's a place where you can ask questions and get it repaired."

A "product transition" for the Mac line is slated for the next quarter, Apple executives said several times in the conference call today. As usual, however, they refused to divulge details about future plans.

Gottheil was less reticent. "There will be any amount of speculation, but clearly there will be a full refresh of both notebook lines," he said after the call ended. His bet: The MacBook and MacBook Pro lines will be revamped to include the newest Intel Corp. processors for laptops, the Centrino 2 quad-core CPU, code-named Montevina. Intel launched the new processors only last week.

On the desktop side, Gottheil expects that the iMacs will be untouched, more or less, although they may receive faster processors and perhaps even an integrated TV tuner to take advantage of the Remote application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Remote, which lets users control iTunes on a Mac using their iPhone or iPod Touch, continues to place in the top five in Apple's App Store download tally.

Last August, Apple unveiled new iMacs, also predicted as part of the company's "product transition" for the quarter.

"Apple will want to help drive back-to-school sales," said Gottheil. "They'll do something next month."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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