Weak Back-to-School Effort Causing ‘Significant’ Mac Sales Slowdown [Analyst]

Weak Back-to-School Effort Causing ‘Significant’ Mac Sales Slowdown [Analyst]

Is it time for Apple to tweak its back-to-school sales campaign? An analyst claims Mac sales are off up to 40 percent, as consumers become more sensitive to prices. But the report differs from another forecast suggesting Mac demand is “encouraging.”

Mac demand during the previous weekend “was probably one of the slowest weekends for Mac sales,” Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry told investors Wednesday. Sales were “probably down” between 35 percent and 40 percent from the weekend of July 23, according to the analyst, citing tracking data.

Chowdhry writes high gas prices have made consumers price-sensitive, pointing to a survey of four university book stores which showed a “significant” fall-off of Mac sales over the past three weeks. Store employees attributed the decline to the usual summer-break slowdown that reverses once classes begin.

Apple needs to change its back-to-school promotion, offering parents $100 cash back, rather than a $100 App Store gift card, feels the analyst. Additionally, he would like to see Apple offer extended hardware warranties through the App Store.

Chowdhry’s claims run counter to an analyst note issued a day earlier. UBS Investment Research analyst Maynard Um sees strong Mac sales. Apple’s Mac “continues to be the most popular among consumers and students heading back to school,” Um wrote.

During its previous quarterly report, Apple did announce slightly lower-than-expected Mac sales of 3.95 million, off from the 4.2 million Wall Street had predicted.

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  • RichardHenderson

    Why is this really a surprise? 
    Take away the free iPod with a ‘virtual’ gift card, and wow – sales dropped.
    Rocket Science? Hardly.

  • ShaneKeller

    Considering i spend at least $100 per month on iTunes and the Mac App Store I would call this a $100 cash back.

  • techgeek01

    It (actually) may because of the MB.  I cannot begin to tell you how many people I know at college that have MB’s.  The thing is, MBA does not cannot replace the MB. Thats the problem. $1000 got you a pretty decent 13 MB.  Now, the same $1000 is going to get you, basically a 11 inch “netbook” and I can tell you, student’s do NOT want to use something that small as the primary machine.  Most of the time, their laptop is their primary machine. what they listen to music, watch movies, type papers up, play games, etc…  You do NOT want to do that on a 11 inch MBA.  But on a 13 inch MB?  yes.

    Plus, it dosen’t help when Microsoft is tossing in a free Xbox ($200 value) as well.  makes the PC world look a lot more tempting.  Especially when you can get several mac-like PC’s for $1000. 

  • AmyWilkinson1563

    I just paíd $21.87 for an íPad 2-64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS.I will
    never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also
    sold a 40 inch L E D T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.
    Here is the website we use to get it all from, http://to.ly/aXoC

  • Jessie Robyn Yelle

    I have to agree. I wouldn’t even consider a MBA unless it was in ADDITION to a solid MB. And even then – if I want a netbook, I’ll get a cheapie $200 that I won’t have heart palpitations over if I accidentally drop it in a puddle whilst camping or something. 

  • JT_CHITOWN

    What happened to Macs outselling back-to-school PC sales of 8 to 2 reported back in early July?  If there is any truth to this latest report, I would think it is more global macroeconomics at play and would be surprised if PC sales were not showing a similar/worse drop.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    I have to disagree with you. It may be as small as a netbook book that doesn’t mean it’s a netbook: the MacBook Air has Flash storage inside and they start with dual-core i5 processors! These are fast little computers, not shoddy-built netbooks.

    However, I will agree that 11.6″ is probably a little too small to enjoy doing everything on it. The 13″ MacBook Air should be the $1,000 model, but then maybe that’s why Apple’s rumored to be finding ARM hardware that can be used for MacBook Airs. Maybe the 11.6″ Airs will drop below $1,000, while the 13″ takes their place at $1,000.

  • hausoftrinity

    Well said. I have a pro, which was a little more expensive, but I also had an iBook back in the day. I would never have imagined that an Air would suit my needs. I do EVERYTHING on my MBP. 

  • Jeff Vandehey

    The promotion is significantly weaker this year w/ the $100 app store credit. IMO, a free iPod touch was a much more compelling offer. 

  • Jack La Haie

    Huh, that’s strange because I’m headed to college this year (along with a hundred or so friends) and most of the people I’ve known have purchased MacBook Pros. And it wasn’t because of the gift card or the nice online education discount (which I was pleasantly surprised by), but because this is the perfect excuse to get one of the coolest laptops available!

  • JessicaSarah9020100

    I just p a i d $21.87 for an i P a d 2-64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasonîc Lumîx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS.I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.
    Here is the website we use to get it all from,http://bit.ly/Bid1st

  • Jimbo

    We just bought one at ABT in Illinois. They gave us a $100 gift card to ABT so my daughter was able to buy anything at the store. Plus the education discount so Apple got their sale but NOT at the Apple store.

  • Teche21

    Isn’t Trip the same guy who has been wrong about iPhone and iPod launch and sales predications number of times… And if Trip is right why is it still impossible to get MacBook Air from any online retailer except Apple.

  • extra88

    I get the education discount and had a need to replace a 1st gen. MacBook with a 13″ MacBook Air and would have bought it in July but waited until last weekend. I was anticipating that Massachusetts would have a tax-free weekend and indeed they did. A number of other states have them in August as well so I would expect that on top of regular back-to-school buying to make this month’s sales stronger than the last.

    The equivalent monetary value of the iPod promotion of previous years is definitely greater than this year’s $100 App/iTunes Store credit. Remember that Apple gets 30% of all sales so this credit costs them at most $70, probably less if you A) don’t use all the credit or  B) spend more than the $100. It is what it is.

  • extra88

    I agree the 11.6″ MacBook Air screen looks small. It actually has more pixels than the white MacBook but the vertical resolution is lower and it has the highest pixel density of all the Macs (and iPad). However, a smaller screen is often quite sufficient, just look at all the people using netbooks that have even smaller screens (1024×600). Checking your email, taking class notes, playing music, would all be fine. Anyone who would play a movie on their phone or a tablet will be satisfied with the screen size. Also, now that the MacBook Air comes with a Thunderbolt port, you can easily spend less than $150 on an LCD monitor (or a less than $200 for a TV w/ “computer” input) for your dorm room for longer bouts of paper writing, game playing, etc. The cheapest 11″ MacBook Air plus external monitor costs a good deal less than the cheapest 13″ MacBook Air.

    To me 2GB RAM, 64GB storage was too small and the price difference between 11″ and 13″ MBA models with 4GB RAM, 128GB storage was less than $100 so it was easy to justify getting the 13″ That extra money meant getting a substantially larger screen (both in inches and pixels), longer battery life, an SD slot, a slightly faster processor. The 13″ MBA also has about a half pound of additional weight but it’s still a lot lighter the white MacBook it’s replacing (2.96lbs vs. 5.2 lbs).

    I’m not going to waste my time trying to figure out what PCs are “mac-like.” Any PC that’s as small yet powerful as the MacBook Air will be more expensive. If it’s less expensive, it’s because it’s not as good in one or more category.

  • techgeek01

    Well, only problem with the 11 inch air and external monitor, is you don’t get that extra screen estate, in class.  So, only place you would have that larger screen is if you’re in your dorm room at your desk, with the screen attached to it.  And the whole point of having a laptop is do be portable.

    well, wasn’t talking about the air, specifically, but specifically pointed toward the Air, you can get a Lenovo Thinkpad X220 Starting at around $700. Ultraportable, 12.5 inch pound laptop. weighing in at 3 pounds.  Granted not as thin as the Air, but packs anywhere from an 8 to 23 hours of battery life, (to get more life, you buy an larger battery or a slice battery) and 13 inch MBP-like performance.  It even comes with SSD options, so if you want the speed of the MBA, just upgrade it to the SSD. (and I believe you can have the SSD option and it will still cost under $1000)

    So, if you want an “ultraportable” that weights about the same as the 13 inch air, that packs great battery life, great performance, that is quite durable, extremely reliable, is quite secured and has like the best keyboard of any laptop out there, for a reasonable chunk less than the Air, the X220 is your choice.But I was more talking about the $1000 range.  Kind of laptops that (could) replace the 13 inch MB.  Here would be the HP Envy 14 and Dell XPS 15z (I believe?)  MBP-like looks, still portable, and pack quite a bunch spec wise.  And you can’t go wrong with either of those choices.  They are quite highly rated laptops.  And with a free xBox with either, they just got a whole lot sweeter. And if you bought it directly through them, you also get a student discount as well.

  • TechUser

    Out of all the interns that we have this year at our company, about only 2% are considering Apple’s education deal this year.  It’s just too lame!

    Even if they didn’t “need” a new computer every September, many a student would upgrade whatever they had and get a new iPod to sell on Ebay if they had the spare cash.  Not this year!

    A measly $100 gift card cannot compare to the free iPod touch of years past, or a flashy new Xbox if you purchase a PC.

    Oh, and an educational computer needs to cost under $1000 and have a BIG screen.  They get stolen, lost, wet with regularity.  And they need to be used to watch videos, presentations, and writing LONG papers and reports.  An 11″ MBA screen is just way too small.

  • lslaa
  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    Mr. Chowderhead seems to be the only analyst claiming that Mac sales are slowing.  It appears he’s obviously trying to manipulate Apple’s share price by lying through his teeth.  High gas prices are not going to stop people from buying Macs.  In fact, they’ll probably just skip buying gasoline and stay home to use their Apple devices.  As Apple continues to open Apple stores around the world, Apple product sales will continue to rise.  There’s just no getting around that fact.  If Mr. Chowderhead stays around for the coming quarters earnings, he’ll see exactly how wrong he was.

  • lslaa
  • Mike Bell

    Based on a survey of 4 stores… LMAO!

    Come on BGR, you don’t have to mindlessly print hate and bullshit. You’re becoming a severely biased news source.

  • lelh79r
  • freerange

    Gee – these were four university book stores, and the students aren’t there yet. And even so, the majority would have already purchased them through Apple BEFORE coming to school if they had any brains at all. This anal-ist is an idiot.

  • CharliK

    I think the Loop (http://www.loopinsight.com/201… ) got it right. Especially the Stupid part

  • obamapacman

    Ed,

    Daringfireball has plenty of examples of where Chowdhry is DEAD WRONG. Chowdhry’s words are typically troll bait, NOT analysis.

  • lsl54
  • andoryuu3

    I’m a Mac addict myself, but what stopped me from buying a Mac (that I intended to buy) was 1) the crummy back to school promo (a gift card?? where’d the ipod promos go? :|…), and 2) new Macbook Pros will likely arrive between December and February.

    The longest Apple has gone without a MBP update is 10 months, and typically is only 7 months.. Yet rumors suggest early 2012 for the new MBPs. December is 10 months.

    Sorry, but Apple won’t be getting my money until then. And actually by that time I may just wait for their next back to school promo, which is hopefully less lame. Almost all my apps are free, and the ones that aren’t that I care about are already paid for and in use.

  • andoryuu3

    Don’t be so hasty to accidentally or intentionally call all netbooks shoddy.

    Let’s not take this the wrong way. I love the look and power of a Macbook Air.. But sometimes it’s not justified to pay near twice as much for something much thinner (and in SOME cases, a bit more powerful). Really, calling any decent machine “shoddy” is an extremely biased thing to do, especially on a place such as “Cult of Mac” (but I expected as much).

    Case in point, I recently purchased an Alienware m11x (R1) for $515 final cost. It may not be super thin, but surprisingly (?) that might not be what everyone is really looking for. I have the basic resource I need, and I saved at least $500 by not choosing a Macbook Air. We certainly have survived without them. The thinness is mere convenience, but that money saved is more important to me.

    This won’t stop me from purchasing a 15″ Macbook Pro next year though. I still love having a Mac. And if I’m going to buy one, I simply need something with more power. The thinness is cool, but if I’m already paying above $1000, i’m going with something with more storage and more power.

    But to each their own, right?

  • lsla588

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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