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Apple Mac Sales Flat in November

Early numbers from NPD Group reveal that Apple's retail sales numbers for November have shown flat year-over-year growth. Declining Mac desktop sales are said to be playing a major role in these relatively poor numbers. In November, Mac desktop sales were down 38 percent while Windows desktops fell only 15 percent. In contrast, however, Apple's notebook sales outperformed the industry with 22 percent growth as compared to a rise of only 15 percent for Windows. Viewed together, Apple's overall Mac sales were down 1% year-over-year.

Analysts blame a number of factors including the economic downturn and the relative premium of pricing of Apple's Macs.

The November data indicate that falling prices for Windows-based PCs, and the rise of low-priced computers like netbooks -- mini notebooks that cost as little as $300 -- have finally tripped Apple, said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, who still expects Apple to continue outpacing the market over the next year. "What you're seeing in the numbers is price sensitivity with the consumer," he said.

NPD analyst Stephen Barker, however, points out simply that the "iMacs need a refresh". As a result, it may be hard to tease out external factors versus product cycle factors. As shown in our Buyer's Guide, all of Apple's desktop Macs (Mac mini, Mac Pro, iMac) are overdue for refresh. The Mac mini is particularly outdated with the last update delivered over 16 months ago. Apple is expected to refresh the iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro early next year.

Related Roundups: iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini