Return of the Mac

Apple came out with some spectacular

results today, which must help mitigate the pain that CEO Steve

Jobs still feels from the backdating charges

against his former employees.

The results came as a surprise to me, because nothing much new happened, Apple-wise,

this quarter. Sure, it announced the long-awaited iPhone, but hasn’t made any

money off it yet. And iPod sales have finally reached some kind of plateau,

now that everybody has one and that most of the growth in sales is coming at

the low, Shuffle, end.

But none of that mattered, it would seem, because salvation came from a most

surprising source – the Mac. Macs have been something of an afterthought

in many analysts’ minds of late, but they’re surging ahead now, and accounted

for 56% of total quarterly revenue, with sales up 36% year-on-year. More impressive

still, Mac notebook sales were up 79% year-on-year: we’ll probably have to wait

for Leopard, the new version of Apple’s operating system, before we see a big

spike in desktop sales.

There was also 79% year-on-year growth in Macs sold in Apple stores, most of

which were sold to people who’d never bought a Mac before.

If iPods have market saturation, Macs still have a minuscule market share and

could grow that substantially. Vista has generally been considered a disappointment,

and Leopard, when it does get released, might well come with all manner of clever

touch-screen technologies along the lines of those seen on the iPhone. There’s

lots of excitement surrounding the phone, of course. But I think the Mac could

turn out to be just as big a story.

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