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Mac Sales Flat for 2008?

Mac Sales Flat for 2008?

Media darling Apple may have just reported record-busting quarterly financials, but it looks like the company may not be immune from the global economic downturn…or, perhaps, the effects of a stale product line. A new report by market analysis firm The NPD Group claims that Apple’s sales of Macintosh computers—which have widely been considered to have been gaining market share—will be flat for 2008, with year-over-year sales holding even with 2007 levels. In contrast, the market for Windows-based PCs has expanded by some 7 percent.

Apple has generally been growing faster than rival PC makers, but NPD analysts put the overall flat year-to-year performance on comparatively poor sales of desktop systems, particularly iMac and Mac mini configurations, which the reporting firm claims are down 38 percent. In contrast, sales of desktop systems in the Windows PC market are off by 15 percent.

Apple, however, continued to execute in the notebook segment, with sales of MacBook and MacBook Pro systems up 22 percent year-on-year, while sales of Windows-based notebooks were up 15 percent.

NPD also forecasts that overall PC sales will fall over 5 percent during 2009 to a $267 billion total, largely owing to economic uncertainty and belt-tightening amongst both consumers and businesses.

Industry watchers have long criticized Apple’s “premium pricing” strategy, which famously puts price tags for its Macintosh systems above the majority of apparently-comparable PCs from other manufacturers and almost never offers discounts or price cuts. The result is that it’s easy for other makers to undercut Apple’s pricing and potentially cannibalize its sales. However, until November, Apple had been posting significant gains in Macintosh shipments. Some industry watchers place some of the blame on increasingly-stale iMac and Mac mini configurations; Apple is widely expected to refresh it consumer desktop offerings at January’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco.