Holiday iPhone, Mac Sales Top Expectations, But iPad Demand Is ‘A Little Light’


Photo by Photo Giddy -
Photo by Photo Giddy -

Sales of the iPhone and Mac are topping analyst expectations for the holiday quarter, eating into Android marketshare. On the flip side, despite reaching new record sales, iPad demand is described as “a little light,” one analyst told investors Wednesday. In the kind of bad news rivals could only hope to have, iPhone demand continues to outstrip supply and those soft iPad figures are partly due to increased interest in another Apple product: the MacBook Air.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu increased his quarterly forecast for iPhone sales to 28 million, up from 26. He also raised his estimate for Mac sales to 5.2 million, up from 5 million on signs of strong demand for the MacBook Air. However, he lowered his iPad sales projections from 15 million to 13.5 million.

The higher demand for the iPhone 4S, as well as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS “is helping drive greater smartphone adoption as well as enabling share gains against Android and BlackBerry (as evidenced with both HTC and RIMM missing numbers),” Wu writes. His supplier checks “indicate much improved production capacity but demand continues to outstrip supply.”

The jump in Mac sales can largely be attributed to overwhelming desire for the MacBook Air, which now comprises 28 percent of all notebooks Apple ships. The demand is so great, there is talk the Cupertino, Calif. company may release a 15-inch version of the lightweight laptop in 2012.

The MacBook Air demand could even be the cause for softening iPad sales. Although some credit should be given to the recent success of Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire, Wu also suggests some consumers faced with tight budgets are opting to buy the more full-featured MacBook Air over the iPad. Whether this is a trend or simply a hiccup will require another quarter or two.

Wu’s 13.5 million iPads during the holiday quarter is in line with Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley who Tuesday forecast 13 million iPads for this quarter. The analyst believes some of the slowdown is due to consumers waiting for a new iPad expected to be unveiled in early 2012.