Mac sales climb 10%, revenue again thumps iPad

iPad plummets 23%; Tim Cook says, 'It is what it is'

15-inch Retina MacBook Pro
Image: Michael Homnick

Apple on Monday said it sold 4.56 million Macs in the first three months of 2015, an increase of 10% over the same period last year.

Revenue for the Mac line was $5.6 billion, $187 million more than for the iPad, the second time the aged computer line has bested the sleeker tablet in the last three quarters.

Mac unit sales were under the average call of 4.7 million by more than three dozen analysts, according to a summary published by Forbes on Sunday, but higher than the estimate generated by research firm IDC last week. IDC had pegged global Mac sales at 4.45 million for the quarter, which would have been an 8% increase over 2014.

For the first quarter, IDC tagged the personal computer industry as down almost 7%, while rival Gartner had tapped the overall business at a 5% decline. Apple regularly outperforms the PC industry as a whole, even though its machines are considerably more expensive, and did so again in the first quarter.

The Mac ASP, or "average selling price," in the quarter was $1,231, a drop of $27 from the quarter immediately prior and more than $100 less than the same quarter the year before.

Lower ASPs indicated that less-expensive Macs, including the entry-level MacBook Air models -- which start at $899 and $999 -- were being purchased in larger volumes. CFO Luca Maestri cited the March updates to the Air and the 13-in. MacBook Pro (which starts at $1,299) for spurring sales.

Later during a conference call with Wall Street, CEO Tim Cook chimed in, calling out Greater China, Apple's sales region that includes the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, for contributing to Mac sales. "The Mac also had an unbelievable quarter in China," Cook said, citing unit sales growth of 31% in a market where IDC projected an overall 5% decline in personal computer shipments.

Apple's latest laptop, the 12-in. Retina-equipped MacBook, was not included in the quarter's number, as it went on sale April 10, after the period's closing. Cook said the firm is "very happy" with the MacBook results so far, but did not offer a sales number.

Not surprisingly, neither Cook nor Maestri pointed out that Mac revenue again exceeded that of the iPad, which has been in a five-quarter slump. Apple also made more money on Macs than on iPads in the third quarter of 2014, which was the first time since the March 2011 quarter when the iPad 2 was launched.

During the first quarter, Apple sold 12.6 million iPads, a decline of 23% compared to the same period the year prior, and down 41% from 2014's fourth quarter. The quarter-over-quarter decline this year was greater than the one after the holiday quarter of 2013.

Cook remains bullish on the tablet, as he has throughout the iPad downturn, but again acknowledged that cannibalization from the iPhone and Mac was partly to blame.

"It is what it is," said Cook of the sales decline. "It will play out. At some point it will stabilize. I'm not sure precisely when, but I'm pretty confident that it will."


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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