The Apple fanboy community is rejoicing at news that sales for Macs have grown 51% in the last quarter, but still nowhere near catching up to Microsoft's dismal failure, Vista.
According to Apple's just-out financial results, a total of 2,289,000 Macs were shipped in the first three months of the year. (Though 'shipped' doesn't necessarily mean 'sold', we'll leave that argument for another time.)
"With over $17 billion in revenue for the first half of our fiscal year, we have strong momentum to launch some terrific new products in the coming quarters," CEO Steve Jobs remarked, a comment that will further fuel new iPhone rumours. But lets's stick with the Mac for a minute.
By Apple's reckoning, those sales represent a 51% increase in units on the same quarter a year ago. Apple also calculates that this represents a 54% increase in revenue, a figure it's obviously pleased with, since it normally only includes Mac unit growth in its earnings announcement and doesn't gloat about the dollars.
It's sensible and accepted practice to do year-on-year comparisons, since retail sales vary markedly at different times of year. But for a fuller picture, here's the numbers over the past three years (which predates when Apple switched to Intel processors for Macs):
|Quarter||Mac sales||% growth YOY|
|Q2 (Jan-Mar 2008)||2,289,000||51|
|Q1 (Oct-Dec 2007)||2,319,000||44|
|Q4 (Jul-Sep 2007)||2,164,000||34|
|Q3 (Apr-Jun 2007)||1,764,000||33|
|Q2 (Jan-Mar 2007)||1,517,000||36|
|Q1 (Oct-Dec 2006)||1,606,000||28|
|Q4 (Jul-Sep 2006)||1,610,000||30|
|Q3 (Apr-Jun 2006)||1,327,000||12|
|Q2 (Jan-Mar 2006)||1,112,000||4|
|Q1 (Oct-Dec 2005)||1,254,000||20|
|Q4 (Jul-Sep 2005)||1,236,000||48|
|Q3 (Apr-Jun 2005)||1,182,000||35|
|Macs sold in 3 years||19,380,000|
Now, there's lots to be impressed by here. Apple has broken its own quarterly sales records for Macs three times in the past eighteen months. While there was clearly some initial resistance to Intel-based Macs, resulting in a nasty growth drop in late 2005 and early 2006, the company has seen year-on-year growth for each quarter since then.
Sales for the last three months are lower than the quarter before, but the Q2 figures are also always lower than those of the preceding period (which includes Christmas), so that's no source of concern. And in the past three years, Apple has sold just shy of 20 million Macs, with roughly 80% of those being Intel models.
While 20 million sounds impressive, it's still a drop in the PC ocean. Consider Vista, hardly anyone's definition of a successful product launch. Microsoft's latest results aren't out until later today, and it doesn't consistently break out sales figures for its different product families, but it has stated that Vista sold 100 million licences in its first 12 months. In that period, Apple sold around 7.8 million Macs. For every Mac sold, that's around 12 copies of Vista.
Keep at it, Steve; there's a long way to go.