Mac sales reach record high as unrelenting iPad slide continues

Apple sold more than 20 million Macs in its 2015 fiscal year, a first

Apple yesterday said it sold a record number of Macs in the September quarter, dealing out 5.7 million machines to customers worldwide.

With those sales, the Mac reached a major milestone for the first time -- sales of 20 million or more machines in an Apple fiscal year -- by logging a total of 20.6 million over the last four quarters.

Mac unit sales were up 3.4% from the same period the year before, when Apple sold a then-record 5.5 million systems. The September quarter was the eighth consecutive quarter of growth; the last time Mac sales shrunk was in 2013 at the end of a one-year downturn.

mac asp and sales volume Data: Apple

Mac sales reached a record high of 5.7 million in the September quarter, but the average selling price, or ASP, fell 4% to just over $1,200. 

Apple has been able to maintain Mac sales growth in the face of continued struggles by the PC industry overall: Researcher IDC recently pegged the business as down 11% for the September quarter, while rival Gartner tapped the contraction at 8%. Global personal computer shipments have contracted for 15 straight quarters, or nearly four full years, according to both IDC and Gartner.

Revenue from Mac sales reached almost $6.9 billion, representing 13.4% of Apple's total of $51.5 billion; that's the largest slice of revenue for the almost-overlooked line in a year.

To put that amount in context, the revenue Apple booked from its Mac line alone last quarter was more than the entire company recorded in the third quarter of 2007, when the iPhone was just getting off the ground.

Apple pointed to sales of the relatively new MacBook -- introduced in March -- and the perennial bestseller, the MacBook Pro, as fueling the quarterly performance. "Mac growth was driven by the great customer response to our new MacBook and sales of the MacBook Pro also remained strong," said Apple's chief financial officer, Luca Maestri, during the earnings call.

On average, the sales price of a Mac slipped slightly from the three quarters prior, to $1,205, signaling that customers were going for less expensive models. However, the Mac's ASP, or average selling price, has held remarkably steady for years, somewhere in the $1,200-$1,300 range -- a price point other computer makers, stuck with razor-thin margins, would love to hit.

Microsoft, for one, has ventured into the same premium-price segment of the market with its Surface and Surface Pro tablet/notebook devices. The Redmond, Wash.-based company re-emphasized that strategy last month when it introduced its first laptop, the $1,499-and-up Surface Book.

The Mac again out-earned the once-sexier iPad, and by a wider margin than before. With iPad unit sales down 19.8% and revenue off 19.6%, the tablet accounted for just 8.3% of Apple's total revenue for the quarter, the smallest portion ever. The $4.3 billion that Apple booked on iPad sales was the smallest amount since the first quarter of 2011, less than a year after the tablet's debut.

As before, Apple downplayed the seven-quarters-and-counting downturn. Maestri cited customer satisfaction data on the iPad, repeating comments he made in July during the company's last earnings call, while CEO Tim Cook touted the upcoming iPad Pro, but made no note of the continuing problems selling the smaller tablets now in the portfolio.

Wall Street has apparently written off the tablet as a major contributor to Apple's revenue and profit, and the lack of questions about the falling sales during the call seemed to reflect that level of disinterest. Cook noticed, saying, "Nobody is asking about iPad on the call" while trumpeting data about the tablet in the Chinese market.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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