Mac sales slow, Windows PC sales grow, says NPD

Mac retail sales in the U.S. last month fell one per cent from a year ago, even as sales of Windows PCs climbed seven per cent, market research company NPD Group Inc. reported Tuesday.

The downturn is a turnabout for Apple , which through October had managed to maintain growth significantly above the PC industry average, and if followed by soft sales this month could push the company to cut prices, said Stephen Baker of NPD Group.

“Apple’s not immune to the economy,” said Baker. “Nor is it immune to having an aged product line. The iMac is long in the tooth.”

Buyers last month apparently agreed with that view. According to NPD Group’s data, which includes data from both brick-and-mortar retail as well as some of the larger online stores, such as Amazon.com, sales of Apple’s desktops plunged 38 per cent in November compared to the same month the year before. Sales of desktop PCs equipped with Windows also fell, but were down just 15 per cent.

“Their average desktop price is more than twice the industry average desktop price,” said Baker, pointing out the relatively high prices for Apple’s iMacs, which start at US$1,199. “If you look at Apple’s product line, and ask, ‘Where is the hole?’ — anybody will answer ‘iMac,'” Baker added.

Apple’s current iMac line is little changed from what the company rolled out in August 2007 when it last refreshed its desktops.

The bright spot for Apple was its laptops, which posted sales gains of 22 per cent over November 2007, easily outpacing the 15 per cent growth of Windows-based laptops.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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