Apple's Mac Sales Drop in Q4 2018 Amid Worldwide PC Shipment Decline
Apple's worldwide Mac shipments fell in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to new preliminary PC shipping estimates shared this afternoon by Gartner.
During the quarter, Apple shipped an estimated 4.9 million Macs, down from 5.1 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple's share of the market grew, however, from 7.1 percent in 3Q18 to 7.2 percent.
Apple continues to maintain its position as the number four PC vendor in the world, behind Dell, HP, and Lenovo, but ahead of Asus and Acer.
Lenovo was the top PC vendor with 16.6 million shipments and 24.2 percent market share, followed by HP with 15.4 million shipments and 22.4 percent market share, with Dell coming in at number three with 11 million shipments and 15.9 percent market share.
Asus trailed Apple with 4.2 million shipments and 6.1 percent market share, as did Acer with 3.9 million shipments and 5.6 percent market share.
Apple's dipping Mac sales followed a trend that affected many PC vendors, with overall worldwide PC shipments dropping to 68.6 million, a 4.3 percent drop from the 71.7 million PCs shipped in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Apple also saw a small decline in the number of Macs shipped in the United States. Apple shipped 1.76 million Macs during the quarter, down from 1.8 million in the year-ago quarter, for a 2.1 percent drop in growth and 12.4 percent market share (up from 12.1 percent).
HP was the number one PC vendor in the U.S. with 4.7 million PCs shipped, followed by Dell and Lenovo. Microsoft and Acer both trailed Apple.
According to Gartner, overall worldwide PC sales were impacted by a shortage of CPUs and political and economic uncertainties in some countries, including the U.S.
"Political and economic uncertainties in some countries dampened PC demand," Ms. Kitagawa said. "There was even uncertainty in the U.S. -- where the overall economy has been strong -- among vulnerable buyer groups, such as small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Consumer demand remained weak in the holiday season. Holiday sales are no longer a major factor driving consumer demand for PCs."
For all of 2018, Gartner estimates that Apple sold a total of 18 million Macs, down from close to 19 million in 2017. Apple's shipments fell five percent year-over-year, and its total market share for 2018 dropped from 7.2 percent to 6.9 percent.
IDC also released its own shipment estimates this afternoon, noting a similar decline in sales for Apple. IDC also ranks Apple as the number four PC vendor in the world with global shipments that reached 4.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2018.
IDC's data suggests Apple's Mac shipments were down 3.8 percent, with market share remaining steady. Like Gartner, IDC estimates Apple sold 18 million Macs in 2018, down from 19 million in 2017.
It's important to note that data from Gartner and IDC is estimated and while not usually far off from Apple's sales, not entirely accurate, either. While we've been able to check estimated data when Apple provides its quarterly earnings releases with actual Mac sales information, there will be no way to do so going forward.
Apple no longer plans to break out unit sales for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, so determining the exact number of Mac sales will not be possible going forward.
Though sales were down during the holiday quarter, Apple could see some pickup in the future thanks to the October release of the new MacBook Air, a more affordable alternative to the MacBook Pro. The newly refreshed model features a Retina display, Thunderbolt 3 support, up to 16GB of RAM, a T2 chip, a new butterfly keyboard and Force Touch trackpad, and other features.