Recall the old joke about being slightly pregnant? Shift the premise to Apple’s tablet and you have the latest opinion on whether the iPad will hurt Mac sales. After previously thought to hurt PC notebook sales most, an analyst tells investors Monday morning the iPad is “slightly cannibalizing” demand for low-end MacBooks.
Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu slightly reduced his expectations for September Mac sales to 3.8 million, down from 3.9 million. He points to suppliers indicating the tablet is “slightly cannibalizing” the most inexpensive MacBooks. At the same time, the analyst increased his forecast for iPad quarterly sales to 5.7 million, up from 3.6 million. The rosier picture is due to the kinks being worked out of iPad screen supplies.
Still on the cannibal beat, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn over the weekend backed away from earlier controversial comments indicating the iPad could slash PC notebook and netbook sales by up to 50 percent. In a statement, Best Buy released a clarification from Dunn: “We believe computers will remain a very popular gift this holiday because of the very distinct and desirable benefits they offer consumer.” The electronic retail giant promised to “carry a broad selection of computing products and accessories.”
However, analysts don’t tend to agree with Dunn’s back-pedaling. Morgan Stanley last week offered an interesting bar chart illustrating how the iPad had eaten up to 25 percent of notebook PC sales since the tablet was introduced. In December 2009, notebook growth was at 70 percent. When the iPad was unveiled in January 2010, notebook growth fell to 29 percent. When the iPad was launched April 3, notebook sales were down to 11 percent. By August, notebook growth had dipped to -4 percent growth.