It’s not news that computer sales continue to decline. What is unusual is that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is now taking the biggest hit, with Mac sales down double digits in the last quarter, while many rivals actually see growth. With an aging PC line-up, it’s time for AAPL to release new Mac computers and new MacBook Pros before the sales slide turns into a plummet.
Over the past 12 months, Apple has hardly been standing still. The company has released a long-awaited new Apple TV, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and the Apple Watch Series 2.
It has released new versions of iOS, watchOS and macOS, and polished the Apple Music user experience.
But other than updating the ultra-thin MacBook with new CPUs and a Rose Gold color option in April, AAPL has ignored its PC products.
Where Are the New Mac Computers and New MacBook Laptops?
The iMac hasn’t seen an upgrade in over a year. The MacBook Pro has gone over 500 days without an update. The MacBook Air — the laptop that kicked off the whole thin, aluminum laptop craze and spawned dozens of imitators — hasn’t been revised since early 2015 (other than bumping the standard RAM allotment).
The worst neglect is on the desktop PC side of things. The Mac Mini has gone two years without an update. And there has been no new Mac Pro in 1,029 days. The Thunderbolt Display was nearly five years old when AAPL discontinued it this year, with no replacement.
Apple’s Mac Sales Are Taking a Beating
Apple managed to buck the global PC slump nicely until this year, when its aging line-up began to drag it down. In 2015, with PC sales down 10.6% worldwide, AAPL sold enough new Mac computers to notch a 2.8% increase.
However, Windows PC vendors have continued to up their game. They’re adopting some of Apple’s design cues, upgrading to the latest Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) processors and pushing advanced technology like 4K resolution displays.
Many AAPL loyalists are holding onto their old computers as they wait and hope for new Mac models to show up. Others have shrugged and moved on, snapping up PCs that run Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows instead.
Q3 2016 PC sale numbers just released by IDC show the impact AAPL’s neglect of its Mac division is having. Sales of new Macs have dropped 13%, compared to an average market shrinkage of 3.9%. Meanwhile, competitors who have embraced premium design — thin, light with plenty of metal — and continued to add the latest technology to their PCs, have reversed their slides. Dell sold 6.2% more PCs, HP Inc (NYSE:HPQ) sales are up 3.3% and Asustek Computer, Inc. (OTCMKTS:AKCPF) posted sales gains of 5.2%.
At this point, with overall PC sales down 3.9%, it’s Apple that’s the single largest drag on the industry.
New MacBook Pro?
The rumor mill has been largely silent about most of AAPL’s Mac line-up. However, the one glimmer of hope is a new MacBook Pro. It has been showing up in spy shots and looks to feature an innovative new touchscreen OLED strip with programmable function keys. It’s expected to be thinner, possibly offer TouchID for security and will likely move to USB-C ports.
AAPL also seems likely to at least upgrade the CPU in the iMac. The fate of the MacBook Air — with its display stuck at 2012-era resolution — is up in the air. Between the MacBook and the new MacBook Pro, the Air may simply be left to fade away as the budget Mac laptop … and the Mac Mini and Mac Pro? Their fate is also unclear.
The expectation is that AAPL is going to announce the new MacBook Pro before 2016 is out. With news that Microsoft seems to be on the verge of unveiling a new Surface All-in-One PC to take on the iMac, the company needs to act on its languishing desktop front as well.
If Apple doesn’t address its aging PC products, it’s going to be another terrible quarter for new Mac sales. Worse, some of the customers who finally give up and jump ship to the Windows camp won’t be coming back for years — if at all.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.