Apple Inc. Scores Higher Global Mac Sales Amid Broad PC Declines


Gartner has released its numbers for first quarter global PC sales. While the industry continues its slow, steady decline, there was a little good news in there for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Apple Inc. Scores Higher Global Mac Sales Amid Broad PC Declines

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Despite criticism over long overdue Mac updates and a controversial new MacBook Pro, AAPL’s PC sales were up slightly. It also notched a slight gain in overall global PC market share.

However, even those wins were tempered by a slight dip in Apple’s U.S. Mac sales.

Global PC Sales Continue to Slide

PC sales have been on a downward trajectory since 2011. And according to figures just released by Gartner, that trend continued in Q1 2017. The research company says global PC sales for the quarter totaled just over 62 million units. That’s down 2.4% from Q1 2016 levels.

Top spot was held by Lenovo Group Limited (ADR) (OTCMKTS:LNVGY) while HP Inc (NYSE:HPQ) was in second and Dell in third place. Apple is in fifth, after posting 4.5% growth in Mac sales compared to Q1 2016.

Gartner analysts blame slowing consumer PC sales for the overall decline, noting consumers aren’t bothering to upgrade old computers and in some cases have dropped computers altogether in favor of other devices (such as smartphones and tablets). On the other hand, Gartner points out, business still sees PCs as essential and offers this prediction:

“Vendors who do not have a strong presence in the business market will encounter major problems, and they will be forced to exit the PC market in the next five years. However, there will also be specialized niche players with purpose-built PCs, such as gaming PCs and ruggedized laptops.”

That effect can be seen in particular with fourth place AsusTek Computer, Inc. (OTCMKTS:AKCPF) — better known in the U.S. as Asus. Focused on consumers with a wide range of largely inexpensive to mid-range PCs and laptops, Asus saw its sales drop 14%. Apple is now within striking distance of fourth spot, with 4.2 million Mac sales compared to 4.5 million PC sales for Asus.

U.S. PC Sales Also Slid, And So Did Mac Sales

The Q1 numbers aren’t all good news for Apple, though.

In the U.S. market where Apple is traditionally stronger (it’s the fourth largest PC vendor here), Mac sales slipped. AAPL still has double digit market share at 12.0%, but that’s down 0.9%.

Overall U.S. PC sales were down the same 2.4% as global PC sales, so AAPL still outperformed the overall market. The different outcome for Apple in the American market compared to that global uptick is likely where those outdated Mac models are really having an impact.

Apple Has an Opportunity

While the market for computers continues to decline, there’s opportunity for Apple.

Its relatively strong performance compared to many other manufacturers — despite having so many models that desperately need updates — shows Apple’s customer base remains loyal. And with other PC manufacturers like Asus clearly struggling, AAPL has the opportunity to grow its Mac sales further and take market share from them.

To do this Apple needs to refresh much of its PC product line, though. The new MacBook Pro was a start, although the company has learned some lessons about listening to its customers with that one.

With a recent commitment from senior management to release a new Mac Pro and new iMacs, AAPL is beginning to make moves that could pay off with increased Mac sales and a bigger share of a consolidating global PC market.

As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Brad Moon has been writing for since 2012. He also writes about stocks for Kiplinger and has been a senior contributor focusing on consumer technology for Forbes since 2015.

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