Apple's iMac on the road to irrelevance

The computer that saved company's bacon in '98 peaked a year ago

By , Computerworld |  Hardware, Apple, computers

Marshall's take is the same: In the first quarter of 2013, desktop sales will be down 20%, and sales during the calendar year will be off 14%.

By the end of 2013, each analyst estimates, Apple's laptops will outsell its desktops by four to one.

Naturally, revenue follows. Desktops will contribute just 2.5% of Apple's total this quarter, 2.7% in the 2013 fiscal year, and 2.4% the year after that, according to White. That's down significantly from 2010, when desktops accounted for 9.5% of all Apple revenue, and even off fiscal 2012, when sales were 3.9% of total revenue.

Charting White's and Marshall's estimates show that after the fourth-quarter 2011 peak of 1.5 million, Apple's desktop line-up will essentially flatten at an average of under one million per quarter for the next two years.

Meanwhile, Apple notebook sales are forecast to increase by 11% this quarter, and post double-digit gains in 2013 and 2014. In other words, sans MacBooks, Apple would essentially be out of the computer business.

Analysts' estimates show that Mac desktop sales will flatten in the next two years. (Data: Apple, Topeka Capital Markets, ISI.)

Mac sales have been hammered by some of the same blows that have landed on the much larger Windows PC industry, including tough economic times for consumers and a shift toward tablets. Even Apple has been affected by what its executives like to call the "post-PC world."

Example One: It's likely that the iPad Mini, Apple's diminutive tablet that went on sale five weeks ago, will sell more units this quarter than all Macs combined.

Example Two: The Mac has been the weak sister of Apple revenue since the fourth quarter of 2009, when the iPhone passed it by. In 2012's third quarter, the most recently-reported by Apple, the Mac accounted for just 18% of all company sales, behind both the iPhone (with 48%) and the iPad (21%). By the end of fiscal year 2013, the Mac's share will have dropped to 14%, White estimates, as the iPhone again hits 50% and the iPad climbs to 25%.

With so little impact on the ledger book, it's no surprise that Apple didn't come through this fall with one item on many wish lists: a high-resolution, "Retina" screen. That addition would probably have pushed up iMac prices even more than the extra $100 Apple slapped on the new machines.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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