New MacBook Pro to Drive Strong First Quarter Mac Sales Growth?

141531 mbp lineup early 2011

Business Insider reports that Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has just released a new research note sharing data from NPD on Apple's first quarter Mac and iPod sales in the United States. According to the data, Apple's new MacBook Pro released in late February led to a tremendous surge in Mac sales during the month of March, with total Mac unit sales up 47% year-over-year.

That strong performance follows 20% year-over-year growth in January and 12% growth in February, yielding a cumulative year-over-year Mac growth rate of 27% for the quarter. Consequently, Munster estimates quarterly Mac sales at close to 3.7 million units, slightly ahead of Wall Street consensus estimates. Apple shipped just under 3 million Macs in its March quarter last year, a quarter that is usually one of Apple's lighter sales periods following strong back-to-school sales in the September quarter and holiday sales in the December quarter.

On the iPod side, NPD's data suggests quarterly sales of 9.8-10.3 million units, in line with Wall Street estimates and down 5-10% from last year as Apple's maturing iPod line continues to shrink as consumers increasingly turn to the iPhone and iPad for their needs. Munster notes that the iPod data is somewhat less accurate than the Mac data, given the high international representation in iPod sales and NPD's focus on only the U.S. market.

Apple is set to announce earnings this Wednesday at approximately 4:30 PM Eastern Time after the stock market close.

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