October 16, 2009, 1:21 AM — If you spend enough time reading all the ancillary jive put out by the tech pundit class, you'll know that analysts have kind of a hard time with Apple. This became particularly clear when just about the entire analyst class last year said that Apple was going to be coming out with a netbook any day, and Apple's execs kept saying pretty clearly, no, that's not a market we're interested in, and then the analysts started getting actively angry and saying that no, Apple had to make a netbook, there's a recession on, people, don't they know anything? And then it turned out that Apple was making gobs of money on high-margin products.
The problem, I think, is that for whatever reason, out of all the numbers they play with, analysts find market share to be the most compelling. This is all well and good, but for an actual corporation, the real number of interest is profit, and Apple seems to have decided that its path to profits lies in high per-unit revenue rather than total market domination, at least when it comes to PCs. (For a market where Apple decided instead to flood every conceivable niche at every price point, see the iPod.)
Anyway, in the run-up to the release of Apple's quarterly sales Monday, some analysts are just kind of throwing up their hands and saying, yes, fine, Apple's going to sell a bunch of pricey computers and will make some good money. I'm particularly charmed by this line from IDC VP Bob O'Donnell: "Last month we called Apple [sales] low, and we got it wrong. I take full blame for that I thought, 'How can they possibly maintain share?' But they defy logic."
For those keeping score at home, both Gartner and IDC predict that Apple will announce modest increases in Apple sales over the same quarter last year. There will continue to be big boosts in raw numbers of units sold for Acer and Toshiba and their many low-margin netbooks. Really getting squeezed is Dell, which doesn't really have much credibility as a premium brand (it's goofy Adamo marketing notwithstanding) but isn't necessarily a big laptop vendor either. (Yes, Dell does sell laptops, but they aren't the core of their offerings, and Michael Dell has been talking smack about them lately.)