Apple's Macbook Air
Apple said it sold a record 5.5 million Macs in the September quarter, boosting sales by 21% year-over-year during a stretch when the overall personal computer business remained in the red.
The Cupertino, Calif., company sold 6.2% more Macs in the quarter than the previous record of 5.2 million set three years ago.
The Mac's $6.6 billion in revenue was its most ever, and its 16% of the company's total revenue of $42.1 billion was the highest since the September quarter of 2011.
Apple credited strong back-to-school sales for the numbers. "The back-to-school season voted, and the Mac won and carried the day," CEO Tim Cook said during Monday's earnings call with Wall Street analysts.
Apple's Mac sales caught analysts short, beating the forecasts of every Wall Street analyst polled by Fortune. The company bested the 4.8 million average of nearly three-dozen analysts by 14%, an even larger disparity than for the previous quarter. None of the 32 financial experts surveyed by Fortune had pegged sales higher than what Apple recorded, although one -- Keith Bachman of BMO Capital -- came very close with his forecast of 5.51 million, just 10,000 shy of actual sales.
Even though the Mac's unit sales were only a fraction of the total personal computer shipments for the period -- according to IDC's estimates, the Mac accounted for just 7% of all personal computers -- its growth was again higher than the overall average, and by a huge margin. Earlier this month, IDC and Gartner had pegged the industry as down 1.7% and 0.5% year-over-year, respectively.
The quarter was the third consecutive that Apple set sales records, and was the fourth straight quarter that showed year-over-year gains. The latter was no coincidence since the comparative quarters were the four during which Mac sales contracted: Q4 2012 through Q3 2013. Still, Apple's one-year retrenchment was much shorter than the overall market's, which by IDC's estimate has had a 10-quarter run of declines.
The ASP, or average selling price, of the Mac line decreased 4% quarter-over-quarter, falling from $1,255 to $1,200.
The slip in ASP indicated a further tip toward lower-priced Macs. Apple has been aggressive in pricing its personal computers this year, with cuts to the MacBook Air line in April and the introduction of a less-expensive, less-powerful iMac in June. Apple also ran its usual back-to-school promotion this summer that handed gift cards to students and parents who purchased Macs.
If sales of the new $2,499 5K Retina iMac take off, the ASP could again climb. Most industry analysts believe the high-resolution iMac will sell in small quantities, however, so the likelihood of an ASP turn-around is improbable.
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