Apple Blames Low Mac Sales on iMac Supply Constraints

Today's quarterly results call revealed that Apple's Mac sales are down 16% compared to last year. Apple sold just 312,000 Macs per week compared to 371,000 per week during the same time period a year ago.

Peter Oppenheimer noted that Apple has experienced significant constraints on the new iMacs, and was only able to ship them during December. Without these constraints, he says, Mac sales would have been higher.

IDC estimates the global personal computer market contracted by 6% during the December quarter. We introduced the new 13-inch MacBook Pro retina display as well as our stunning new iMacs in October. As we projected a quarter ago, we were significantly constrained with respect to the new iMacs and were only able to ship them for the final month of the December quarter. We believe our Mac sales would have been much higher absent those constraints.

Apple was only able to provide 3 to 4 weeks of inventory, below its target of 4 to 5 weeks. Apple's newest iMacs have been plagued with production issues, mainly due to a new lamination process used for the displays.

Cook further addressed this in the Question and Answer section.

The best way to answer this is to look at the previous year. The difference is $1.1 billion from last year. iMacs were down by 700k units year over year. As you remember, we announced new iMacs late in October. Announced they would ship in November and December. Did ship by those dates. Limited weeks of ramping on those products during the quarter. Significant constraints on the iMac at the end of the quarter. Sales would have been materially higher without those constraints. Tried to share this on the conference call in October.

If you look at last year, we had 14 weeks in the quarter last year. 13 weeks this year. Channel inventory was down from the beginning of the quarter by more than 100k units. Didn't have the iMacs in channel. These factors bridge more than the difference between this year's sales and last year's.

Cook also mentioned a few other minor factors, including the weak PC market and the impressive sales of the iPad. Apple sold more than 23 million iPads, and Cook said that some cannibalization was almost certainly a factor.

Top Rated Comments

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97 months ago

I'm glad there's a company like Apply betting big on risky new design and manufacturing technologies... sometimes getting burned (like these low iMac supplies) and sometimes succeeding in a big way (milled aluminum casings across the board).

It's easy to just make whatever has worked before. But without this kind of innovation and risk-taking, we'd lose out on a lot.

Those risky design techniques on the imac provided no benefit to the user at all. Small form factors may pay off in laptops since they are portable but for desktops they only add to the price and reduce performance and provide nothing in return. Thats the problem with apples desktop line. It sacrifices far too much in the name of form-factor. The benefit of a thinner or lighter laptop is apparant as you carry that machine around. The benefit of something like the mac mini or imac being smaller or thinner is pretty much nothing. Heck most people would be happy with a mid tower since they aren't spending extra on a form factor they don't need. This is why you no longer see apple machines all over public schools like they used to be. Its not cost effective to deploy a mac desktop lab when you can buy 400 dollar dell optiplexes that perform just as well and don't have heat issues.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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97 months ago
If they had a new Mac Pro, would be even higher :rolleyes:
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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97 months ago
I'd also say that the insanely high price for a retina MacBook Pro (with decent hard disk space) is as larger factor in the sales drop. If they introduce Haswell models with a price drop this year plus revamped Airs I'm sure sales will rebound.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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97 months ago
Somehow I could see that coming considering most people are tight with their money in the present economy.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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97 months ago
They lost one iMac sale from me.

When I realised I couldn't open the machine to change the hard drive, I bailed on my purchase of a 27" model. That's basic maintenance - like changing the oil on your car. The iMac is like a sleek car with no access to the engine bay.

That said, I bought a Mac mini instead. It's a joy to open and maintain (with the right tools).
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
97 months ago
I'm glad there's a company like Apply betting big on risky new design and manufacturing technologies... sometimes getting burned (like these low iMac supplies) and sometimes succeeding in a big way (milled aluminum casings across the board).

It's easy to just make whatever has worked before. But without this kind of innovation and risk-taking, we'd lose out on a lot.

(PREDICTION: someone will forget that we're talking about display lamination, and ask how "innovative" I think it is to make a DVD player optional :p I'll answer now: I think it's not innovative, merely a good move.)
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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