Q3 2018: Really low Mac sales while PC sales remained constant


(David Silbey) #41

_ The Gartner estimates were within 8%. Not bad for an estimate_

The estimates were wrong, and you based your entire analysis on the substantial drop they supposedly showed. Well, that drop didn’t exist. There was a drop in unit sales – a slight drop – but revenues actually went up. That really doesn’t fit your narrative.


(Simon) #42

“Narrative”? Really? Can we not make this sound like some kind of personal dispute?

Apple shouted from the rooftops when they sold more Macs than PCs. Now we just saw Apple sell fewer Macs while during the same quarter several PC manufacturers sold many more units. It’s the same metric. There is no narrative. This is not politics. It’s applying the same metric and not choosing which side to come down on depending on which brand had the plus sign and which had the minus sign in front of their numbers.

Apple has always made more revenue and that’s great if you’re one of their shareholders. But Apple making more revenue does not make the Mac user experience any better. Hence, their revenue is not was this thread was ever about. This thread was about Mac users and Mac buyers, and what has changed as of lately for them. Apple wasn’t able to maintain number of Macs sold (their numbers, not Gartner’s, not mine)—obviously fewer people wanted to buy a new Mac. In the past it had been suggested that that was because all manufacturers were selling fewer computers. But as we just witnessed, that is not the case. Apple sold fewer units while their competitors sold more. To somebody who’s interested in using Macs (as opposed to making money off Apple shares) that’s a bad sign. And that is what this thread is about. You are of course perfectly free to start your own to discuss other aspects.


#43

Simon

    November 3

Apple can’t wait to shout from the rooftops when things are “fastest selling iPhone ever” but when the sales are flat, let’s hide all the numbers I guess.

Facebook doesn’t break out Instagram, Messenger, etc. Google doesn’t break out YouTube, Drive, etc., and it recently lumped together reporting a bunch of its ad sales operations. Amazon just announced they will just be posting one number for all its ad sales operations. They only recently broke out Kindle and Fire sales when Barnes & Noble and others abandoned the eReader business and stockholders, the press, board members needed reassurance about it. It turns out that iPad has been creaming them in unit sales and profits, which doesn’t matter to Amazon because they pretty much give them away because they pump billions into to their retail and ad sales businesses. It’s a totally different strategy than Apple, Samsung, etc.

“Tablet sales for Q4 of last year are out, and they tell an interesting story about Amazon superseding Samsung during the quarter with tremendous growth due to large discounts, according to an IDC report. While iPads were still far and away the most popular tablets among consumers last year, with the 9.7-inch iPad and two sizes of the iPad Pro selling a lot of units, Amazon showed the most growth among the top five tablet companies.”

https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/6/16981504/amazon-tablet-fire-2017-black-friday-cyber-monday

Talking about unit sales is no longer easy for Apple, so it will stop. What will be too tough for the company to disclose to its investors next?

If the company’s profits are growing and they are delivering big dividends and stock prices are rising (preferably) or stable, then investors will be grinning ear to ear all the way to the bank. Apple’s stock turned down slightly after the earnings because of guidance that that sales will be affected by the mega tariff increases.


#44

David is correct here. In marketing, the margin of error is generally +/- 3%. 8% isn’t 10%, but it’s certainly not good.


(gastropod) #45

Simon wrote: “obviously fewer people wanted to buy a new Mac”

That could well change (for a while) with the new Air and Mini. People don’t like paying full price for years old specs, and these days there’s no reason to since for most people, the old hardware still works fine for what they need to do. The Mini is a mixed bag, because it’s much more expensive for the casual user, but for people who do want some horsepower but don’t need a pro it’s quite a nice machine, and not much more expensive than a used 2011 Mini. Some will hold off to see what the new Pro is like, but I expect that it’s going to be vastly expensive, so the Mini will fill that gap. The Air is one of the most popular laptops among my users, and they’ll likely jump at it as soon as their budgets allow them to.

I suspect that one reason for the price increases is that people keeping their hardware for five to seven years instead of two to four is the new normal. (Though their price for SSD upgrades is extortionate, especially since SSD prices are sliding down pretty fast right now.)

One further complication on comparative sales figures: Many PC companies state units shipped. These are shipped to stores, but not necessarily ever sold; historically there have been some huge gaps between those numbers. Apple has always (afaik) reported actual sales. I personally don’t care about sales figures. I only care that a company makes stuff I want to buy, and (sometimes) probably isn’t going to go out of business immediately after I buy it.


#46

Simon

    November 4

Apple shouted from the rooftops when they sold more Macs than PCs.

I don’t ever remember reading or hearing anything about Macs having more unit sales than PCs, even for one quarter. Please provide a respected source for this claim. It’s my day job to know this stuff, and I do need to know specifics. I couldn’t find anything in a quick search.

Now we just saw Apple sell fewer Macs while during the same quarter several PC manufacturers sold many more units. It’s the same metric.

Manufacturer to manufacturer is a totally different story. To make a valid comparison about unit sales, you need to look at specific products within a price range. Otherwise it’s like comparing cubic zirconia to diamonds, or the cheapest car to the $13 million Rolls Royce Sweptail.

There is no narrative. This is not politics. It’s applying the same metric and not choosing which side to come down on depending on which brand had the plus sign and which had the minus sign in front of their numbers. Apple has always made more revenue and that’s great if you’re one of their shareholders. But Apple making more revenue does not make the Mac user experience any better.

Apple couldn’t even cover its derrière for quite a few years while they focused on lower end pricing and licensed Mac OS out to even cheaper manufacturers. It took Steve Jobs to focus Mac back to the high end premium range and broaden the product line to include mobile devices and services for the company to become healthy once again.

Hence, their revenue is not was this thread was ever about. This thread was about Mac users and Mac buyers, and what has changed as of lately for them.

Apple is making big profits off of Macs because people are willing to pay more for them. If they once again moved from their focus on premium products and services. And there is the chance that services could become so popular that Apple changes its privacy and security policies to start selling data and advertising like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, and prices of Apple products go down.

Apple wasn’t able to maintain number of Macs sold (their numbers, not Gartner’s, not mine)—obviously fewer people wanted to buy a new Mac.

I’m sorry that you feel bad about this; like you and most other consumers, I’m not happy about shelling out mega bucks for Macs too. But whenever I have used a PC over the years, it has made my life totally miserable and my time considerably less productive. Though I’d rather spend the money I’ll be doling out for a new Mini or Air in the next few months on fashion and entertainment, a cheaper PC is not a good option for me. And I do realize that in order to remain in the black Macs have to necessarily cost more than PCs, and that there are people like me that are willing to spend more for what is the better system for me.

In the past it had been suggested that that was because all manufacturers were selling fewer computers. But as we just witnessed, that is not the case. Apple sold fewer units while their competitors sold more. To somebody who’s interested in using Macs (as opposed to making money off Apple shares) that’s a bad sign.

In economic terms, what it means is that Macs are more profitable than PCs and Apple is not a non or not for profit company. Although many fewer people are willing to pay a lot more for Macs, they are extremely more profitable than PCs. It’s one of the reasons why Apple is very profitable while still sitting on mega billions of dollars in cash and is the first trillion dollar US company, and is currently the only trillion dollar firm in the world.


(David Silbey) #47

The issue I’m having is that I don’t see any acknowledgement that things are more complex than “Apple is messing up.” In a quarter where the unit sales were down slightly and revenue was up, that’s not really a point, that’s a narrative, one that seems immune to discussion or disagreement. Has Apple neglected the Mac? Certain models of it, sure. Is it causing Apple to “wither”? Unit sales have stayed pretty much stable for the last three years, so it doesn’t seem like it, no. In what you yourself has noted was a stagnant PC market (0.1% growth), Apple sales dropped by a tiny bit. Eek.


(Simon) #48

I absolutely expect that to happen. These updates have strengthened the Mac and started rounding off their portfolio. If they now would actually ship that new Mac Pro, we’d be pretty close.

My concern is that they maintain that momentum. If down the road they let these minis wither the way they did with the last generation, they’ll be in trouble again. If they stay committed and aggressively update and innovate, I’m optimistic their sales will recover. Tablets have not become the future of computing. And despite all the smartphone hype, plenty of professionals still need real computers to do real work. I’ve never doubted that pros will pay good money for excellent tools. Apple has enough of that history in their blood.

I think that’s a fair point. This mini can hardly be called an entry-level Mac as maybe the original mini might have been. This new mini is much more of a headless iMac. But wouldn’t it also be fair to say that today’s entry-level/consumer Mac might just be a less expensive portable Mac? The $999 MBA is definitely not cheap, but it’s a svelte, solid notebook that runs the latest and greatest macOS. It gives somebody with no prior kit a chance to get to know Mac without shelling out $2k.


#49

Simon

    November 5

Tablets have not become the future of computing. And despite all the smartphone hype, plenty of professionals still need real computers to do real work. I’ve never doubted that pros will pay good money for excellent tools. Apple has enough of that history in their blood.

For the moment, this is true. Although it will take some time, I think that advances in technology will enable tablets to replace desktops and laptops. When I decide on a new Mini or MacBook Air in the next few weeks, it will definitely cost less than the either our first Mac, an SE 30, even ignoring inflation. And the LaserWriter we bought at the same time cost more than the SE 30. And the beloved SE 30 is not nearly as full featured or capable as even the first iPhone.

Except for what I do for work, personal finances and record keeping, my iPad does just fine for banging out emails, watching Netflix when I’m not near a TV, catching up on news, searching, surfing and shopping on the web. The day that iPads have enough power, memory and rendering ability to handle full versions of InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Filemaker, etc. and plug into a big screen will be the day I phase out whatever Mac I have. And there are many, probably millions, of people out there who only use the desktop or laptop provided by the company they work for and use it just for work, and who use their phones for everything else.

It will take some time, I think but tablets have a great future.


(Paul Schinder) #50

I don’t think it’ll ever happen. First, in order for a table to replace a computer for me, it’ll have to have the usual array of code writing/building tools I use: emacs, gcc or clang, perl, a fortran compiler, and I’d have to easily be able to get files on and off of it and compile and install Open Source graphics tools. Second, it’ll have to have the processor(s) and ability to deal with continuous heat loads due to running multiple number crunchers at once.

Just last night my daughter said she wanted one of the new iPad Pros (fully tricked out with the keyboard stand, of course) in order to process videos. I told her that she already knew she could do that stuff on her MacBook Pro, while I wasn’t certain you could on an iPad (how, for example, do you get video on and off, and are the video editing tools on an iPad as fully functional as on the Mac?). She decided she’d be better off for now just using her laptop.


(James Arnold) #51

Maybe not for you but iPads have almost completely replaced traditional computers where I work (Lenscrafters) at the retail and field level. Every tool I need to do my job has been ported to work on the original iPad Pro (maybe second gen, not sure).

On a personal level my iPad is now my only computer and has been for a few years now. I find it has very few restrictions. I find I can do all the photo editing and sharing I need to with no problems.
James Arnold


(Simon) #52

It’s the same for me and pretty much everybody else in my department. You don’t run top notch research on sub-par tools. Demos for visitors, sure iPad’s great. Writing code to extract and process experimental data meant for publication in top journals - forget about tablets. People need file systems, NFS & SMB shares, X forwarding, tools like vi, emacs, gcc, python, make, autoconf/automake, latex, heck anything meant for Linux you can basically compile on a Mac. Forget about that on iPad.

Not to mention the locked down hardware. I need to be able to interface lab hardware with serial ports, USB, or in some cases even PCIe. None of that works with any tablet - iPad or Android. Why should it? There’s not a single advantage to recompile all that stuff to work on iPad except for maybe that a decent iPad is $1500 while a MBP is $2500. But our latest x-ray pixel detector we just interfaced to read out cost about $1M. So that extra $1k spent to get a MBP, it’s quite simply noise nobody cares about.

If the Mac were to fade away and people be told to use iPad instead, I’m almost certain my entire community would switch to Linux on some PC hardware within 5 years. Kind of the reverse of what happened when Macs became ubiquitous in science departments and large research facilities around the the early 2000s. Here’s an example from my colleagues at CERN of what that looked like.


#53

You’re talking about iPads that are available today. The point I was trying to make is that in a few years time it’s highly likely that tablets will become capable of doing a lot more than the current crop in a few years.


(Tommy Weir) #54

Horses for courses or trucks for highways… most scientists I’ve met use either Linux or Macs. All would see tablets as ancillary machines, good for field use or data gathering.

Most creatives I know use Macs but a lot of them see the iPad as increasingly important if not essential.

For tablets to replace desktops there’s a long way to go, but eventually I suspect we will just see them all as screens of varying dimensions.


#55

Sorry, I was tired last night and accidentally hit the send button. You’re talking about iPads that are available today. The point I was trying to make is that in a few years time it’s highly likely that in the near future tablets and mobile phones will become capable of doing a lot more than laptops can today.


(Paul Schinder) #56

Not until they solve both the processor problem (desktop grade processors are generally a lot more powerful) and the cooling problem.


(Paul Schinder) #57

Yeah, my Mac Pro is a 2010 model. It’s still chugging along, but in the last few years if it broke I’d probably would have just replaced it with a Linux box. (I have zero interest in the trash can Mac Pro.) We’ll see what the new Mac Pro looks like. If it’s not really suitable or just too damned expensive, I may just go with Linux. The only thing I’d miss is iTunes, and I have plenty of different ways now (Apple TV, iPhone, MacBook Pro, iPad) of getting to my music and video. I spend most of my time on the Mac Pro in Terminal and the command line anyway.


(Neil Laubenthal) #58

That’s my big objection to the iPad being the replacement to the laptop as well. Sure…one can do video and photos on the iPad…but the limited storage and compromises/limitations of iOS make it really not the optimum solution for either. Some folks can work with just an iPad…Viticci from macstories.com for instance…but he does mostly text with some limited photo stuff for screenshots and the like. Me…as a full time RVer I shoot a lot of images, about 10K during the 6 month travel season we just finished…and doing that on an iPad with a limited version of Lightroom and no Luminar or HDR apps just doesn’t cut it.

I saw a couple of reviews today on the new iPad Pros…and while all of them praised it and agreed it’s the best iPad ever…it’s still an iPad and has all the flaws that an iPad has along with all of the advantages.

If Apple really wants the iPad to replace the laptop and be the computer for everybody…it’s time for the iPad to run iPadOS instead of iOS…and for iPadOS to include all the stuff that more power needing users need to get their work done…a Files app that does what Finder does for macOS, the ability to connect external drives for storage and import/export of raw media and finished files because the fastest wifi connection is still way, way slower than a wired connection, and the ability to select your own defaults for email, web, etc. I’m not suggesting that the basic iPadOS be essentially macOS…it’s fine to have the defaults work exactly as they do now but allow users with different needs to use the thing to get their stuff done rather than having to monkey around with a dozen workarounds to get it to kinda sorta work. I should be able to use the mail and web apps of my choice and should be able to open a file in the app of my choice rather than just the app that opened it…particularly if it’s a file created elsewhere that doesn’t have a home app on iOS.

I love the iPad…mine gets way more use than my MBP does…but for photo processing and blogging the laptop is just a superior tool at this point. With some decent additions to make iOS into iPadOS for connectivity and file manipulation and one of the many keyboards you can use…with those additions I can see it being a laptop replacement…but as of today it’s not. It’s primarily a consumption device and while some can do their job solely with it for the most part it requires too many workarounds and compromises just to be able to say “I do all my work on an iPad”…if you can do it faster and easier on a laptop then it’s just bragging rights you’re after if you insist on using an iPad. Heck…with the performance numbers they claim for the A12X in the new iPads being faster than most laptop chips…they could easily put macOS on the iPad…that wouldn’t really work as it needs a mouse but iPadOS can bridge the gap between iOS that works on a phone size device and macOS that works on a laptop with a mouse and keyboard.


(Marc Z) #59

Who says that’s Apple’s goal? If that was true, why would they continue to make Macs?

I think Apple believes the iPad is all the computer most people need — but it’s not for everyone. I’m a computer pro and I do programming and so I need a full computer — but my mom does 99% of her stuff on iPhone and iPad. She’s always annoyed when she has to use her Mac.

The new, more powerful iPads are great for people that can use them. They’ll probably increase the percentage that go iPad-only. But that doesn’t mean the iPad is supposed to replace laptops for everyone.


(Neil Laubenthal) #60

They’ve never stated it…but reading the tea leaves tells me that they think the vast majority of their users can use an iPad only and that’s the direction Apple wants to go. The trouble is that IMO the iPad is good for the majority but not the vast majority. They need to have a third tier of users that need more than an iPad can provide but less than the high end Macs provide. My thoughts for iPadOS is that the default can be what we have now but you can enable Power User mode or whatever it’s called in Settings so that users that need more than normal iOS can still get things done on an iPad. Disk access and app choices would provide that while still moving towards Apple’s goal (IMO) of a. iPad for almost all users.

Apple has never specifically said this is their plan…but that’s what I read from the tea leaves.

TTFN:

neil