Apple

Analysts say Apple saw double-digit US PC unit sales growth in holiday quarter

While the iPhone gets all the attention, Apple continues to sell more and more Macs.

Apple sales

The iPhone and iPad, and even the as-yet-unreleased Apple Watch, might get all the attention and the glory for Apple, but the humble Macintosh is still doing really well for the company.

According to data from analyst firm Gartner, Apple came in third for US PC market share in the holiday quarter, clocking 11.7% share and growing its own PC unit shipments by more than 11% over 2013.

The firm estimates that Apple sold 2.12 million Macs in the US last quarter, up from 1.9 million the year previous. Apple actually lost round in the market share battle, though that's possibly due more to seasonality and a price push by cost-sensitive holiday shoppers than by anything that's affecting the company long-term.

Late last year, Apple launched a new Retina screen-equipped iMac that has received widespread acclaim, and the company's MacBook Air notebooks have also been selling very well following a refresh and price drop earlier in the year.

Though Apple is doing very well in the US — particularly with profit, as the company doesn't sell a Mac much cheaper than $1,000, meaning Apple is making significant profits on all its Macs — it's overshadowed by more traditional PC powerhouses in the rest of the world. Lenovo, HP, and Dell all sold more than 40 million units in 2014, according to Gartner, with rough estimates putting Apple somewhere around 20 million units on the year (Apple sold 18.9 million Macs in fiscal 2014, which ended in September).

This means that on a worldwide scale, Apple owns somewhere between 6 and 7% of the worldwide PC market. On the plus side, though the worldwide PC market actually contracted slightly in 2014 (continuing a trend that's been running for years), Apple's growth in PC sales means it continued to gain market share. Apple executives frequently tout this fact in company earnings reports, the next of which is scheduled for the last week of this month.

Gartner says that some spending is shifting back to PCs after several years of spending on tablets. "The US showed the highest growth in the fourth quarter of 2014. In EMEA, the Western Europe PC market also showed good consumer sales," explained Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Emerging markets, on the other hand, still showed weak PC growth. We attribute this weakness to a strong affinity for smartphones and tablets in those markets, while PCs are a low priority. Even low-priced notebooks struggle to succeed because of the different mobile device usage patterns."

Luckily for Apple, it's successfully competing in all those product categories, thanks to a strategy that sees the company selling older versions of the iPhone and iPad (and driving down the cost of the Mac significantly from where it was even just a few years ago) to more cost-sensitive customers, particularly in emerging markets.

Expect to see record results from Apple on both the iPhone and Mac fronts when it reports on its earnings from the fourth calendar quarter. Thanks to its massive smartphone and tablet success, Apple can continue to focus on the high-end, most profitable segments of the PC market and avoid competing head-on with the HP's and Dell's of the world.

Where is your company planning to spend its PC budgets this year? Let us know in the comments below.

About Jordan Golson

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox