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MacBook sales in 2016 are worse than the (terrible) overall laptop market

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Apple sold 2.53 million laptops in the first quarter of 2016, a 40.4 percent quarterly decline, according to research firm TrendForce.

The first quarter of any given year is never great for laptop sellers, coming between the holiday shopping season and the launch of new products. Even in that context, this isn’t great news for Apple. The MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro combined to sell 3.4 million laptops in the first quarter of 2015, so this year’s Q1 tally represents decline of 870,000 units compared to last year, MacRumors is reporting.

For context, laptop shipments overall are down 7.3 percent over last year’s first quarter. This means Apple’s market share is down even as competitors also lose ground: Macs made up 7.1 percent of the notebook market in 2016’s first quarter, down from 8.8 percent last year.

Apple hasn’t done much to shake up its laptop lineup in recent years. The MacBook Air, for example, hasn’t seen a design overhaul since 2010. The MacBook Pro line has mostly seen hardware updates since 2012, leaving the chassis more-or-less identical.

For a long time the weight, display quality, and overall build of Apple laptops clearly put them ahead of the field, and made their high price point easy to justify. That’s no longer the case. Apple’s MacBook Air and Pro are too heavy, too thick, and have outdated displays compared to the competition, all at generally higher price points with lower specs.

The Mac makes up a tiny percentage of Apple’s overall business; the iPhone makes up the vast majority of Cupertino’s profits. Mac fans are used to being overlooked in Apple’s big announcements. Combine this with an overall decline of laptop sales, and Windows 10 slightly boosting sales of non-Apple laptops, and it’s easy to see how this down quarter happened.

But we can’t help but wonder: could a revamped MacBook line do better in the market? Are Apple fans putting off purchases, hoping for up-to-date processors and lighter laptops? We suppose we’ll find out if and when Apple revamps its laptop lineup.

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Justin Pot
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