Mac ends sales slump with record revenue of $7.2B

High-priced MacBook Pro with Touch Bar kicks up average selling price to highest point in four years

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Adam Patrick Murray

Apple on Tuesday said that its Mac line generated record single-quarter revenue of $7.2 billion, beating the previous mark set three years earlier by $300 million.

"The Mac not only returned to growth but generated its highest quarterly revenue ever," said CEO Tim Cook in prepared remarks during a call with Wall Street analysts.

Apple said it sold approximately 5.37 million Macs during the December quarter, a 1.2% gain over the same period the year before and the fourth-largest number ever.

As Cook pointed out, the slight uptick in sales was a departure from the recent past: For the four quarters preceding December's, Mac sales had been in decline, sometimes seriously so. The September quarter, for example, was down 14.4% from the comparable period in 2015.

Mac unit sales were also slightly higher than the forecasts produced by most of the 26 analysts polled by the Apple 3.0 website before the call.

Although company executives said little about the Mac during yesterday's earnings call, Cook did mention the new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro notebook, which launched in late October. He hinted that Apple could have sold more if it had had them. "We were supply constrained for the new MacBook Pro throughout the December quarter and are just now coming into supply/demand balance," he said of the shortage.

By the numbers, customers snapped up the MacBook Pro: The Mac's overall ASP, or "average selling price," jumped to $1,348, a year-over-year increase of $78, or 6.1%. That ASP was the highest since the March quarter of 2013.

Mac sales 4Q 2016 Data: Apple

Mac unit sales increased by 1% in the December quarter compared to the same period the year prior. That's the small bump at the far right, which represents a return -- small as it was -- to growth after four consecutive quarters of contraction.

The ASP increase was almost certainly fueled by the Touch Bar MacBook Pro models, which were priced $400 to $500 higher than their predecessors. Not coincidentally, the last time Mac's ASP hit the $1,300 territory was during the multi-quarter stretch from mid-2012 to early 2014. That ASP bump had been attributed to price increases on the MacBook Pro after Apple added a higher-definition display, dubbed "Retina" by the company.

Macs accounted for 9.2% of Apple's total revenue of $78.4 billion, and the computer group slipped into the No. 2 spot on the company's list, ahead -- just barely -- of the Services category. It was the first time in four quarters that Mac revenue topped that of Services.

The iPhone, with revenue of $54.4 billion, was again Apple's top money maker -- the spot the smartphone has occupied since 2009 -- and the iPad booked revenue of $5.5 billion, fourth out of the five "buckets" Apple reports.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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