Mac sales up 8 per cent as industry remains in doldrums

Apple will again boast that sales of its Mac line of computers beat the industry average, assuming estimates by researcher IDC hold up.

Apple next week will again boast that sales of its Mac line of personal computers beat the industry average, assuming estimates by researcher IDC hold up.

IDC published Q1 shipment estimates last week for the top five PC makers - dubbed OEMs for "original equipment manufacturers - but unlike the previous period, Apple did not make the cut, outdone by the likes of Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Asus.

IDC research analyst, Rajani Singh, has disclosed her firm's Apple preliminary estimate as 4.45 million Macs, several hundred thousand less than the fifth-place Asus' 4.8 million.

IDC's 4.45 million for Apple, however, would be an increase of almost 8 per cent over the same period of 2014, when the Cupertino, Calif. company sold 4.13 million Macs. The researcher's Q1 bet would account for about 6.5 per cent of all personal computers.

Apple did not release any new Macs in the January-March quarter, although it did begin selling the 12-in. Retina MacBook this month.

If IDC's forecast turns out accurate, it would mean Mac sales again outpaced those of the PC industry as a whole: The research firm said that global shipments were down almost 7 per cent in Q1 compared to the same three-month stretch the year before, with the biggest drop in the catch-all "Others" category.

Of the March quarter's top five OEMs, HP, Lenovo and Asus posted gains between 3.3 per cent and 4.4 per cent, said IDC, while Dell and Acer declined 6.3 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.

IDC came close to nailing Apple's number last quarter, erring on the high side. In January, it forecast 5.75 million Macs for 2014's Q4, or 4 per cent higher than the record 5.52 million Apple booked for the period.

According to Singh, Mac sales were flat, more or less, in the U.S. and Japan last quarter, but strong -- and up -- in China and Western Europe. Mac shipments grew just 2 per cent in the US, for example. "Apple won't do super great relative to its peers in the US," said Singh, pointing out that IDC's estimates had HP's domestic shipments up nearly 10 per cent and Lenovo's up almost 9%.

Brian White, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, was more bullish on Mac sales: His forecast pegged worldwide Q1 sales at 4.7 million, or a 13 per cent increase over the year prior.

Apple will reveal first-quarter Mac sales on April 27, when it holds its next earnings call.

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