NPD: 90% of $1,000+ PCs Sold in Fourth Quarter 2009 Were Macs
Betanews reports on data from market research firm NPD showing that, of computers priced at $1,000 or more sold in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2009, 90% were Macs. The data demonstrates Apple's continued strong performance among the high-end personal computer market as average selling prices for Windows computers continue to decline. In addition, Apple doubled its share of the $500-$1,000 computer market year-over-year from 5% to 10% based on sales of the Mac mini and MacBook.
The data is startling confirmation -- at least for the United States -- about Apple's success establishing the Mac as a premium brand. More significantly, the data shows how discounting has lowered consumer expectations about Windows PCs and brand equity for companies like Dell or HP. Additionally, gains below $1,000 indicate there is demand for lower-priced Macs, which during 2009 Apple satisfied with the $999 white MacBook and $599 Mac mini.
The data should be considered with several caveats, with the most significant likely being that NPD's data does not cover all sales channels, primarily focusing on brick-and-mortar and major online retailers while not addressing the direct-to-business sales channels responsible for a significant portion of Windows PC sales. Apple's growth in the $500-$1,000 segment was also obviously enhanced by continued declines in average Windows PC selling prices, which slipped to $475, down almost $100 year-over-year. Apple's prices did decline slightly from $1,499 to $1,361 as the company cut some prices on the high end of several of its computer lines, but still remained well above Windows PC levels.
Betanews reported last July that Apple had surged to claim over 90% of the revenue of the $1,000+ computer market, but today's report focusing on unit sales instead of revenue offers a clearer picture of Apple's performance in the segment. As has been raised in similar reports in the past, however, the question remains about how much growth space is left in the $1,000+ market as overall selling prices continue to decline and the $500-$1,000 price range becomes the new "premium" market. Apple observers can of course point to the company's record revenue, profit, and Mac sales last quarter as evidence that its business model continues to succeed, but doubts will certainly continue to surface.