Apple's Mac flies in under the radar

Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:45pm EDT
 
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By Poornima Gupta

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amid the fanfare accompanying the noisy launch of the iPad mini this week, Apple Inc also took the wraps off new Mac computers.

The facelift may help revitalize an important lineup that -- while seeing growth tail off in the early part of 2012 -- yields 14 percent of revenue and still racks up sales growth numbers that are the envy of a flagging PC world.

On Tuesday, Apple took the lid off a slimmed-down iMac and a 13-inch laptop with a vastly improved screen, setting the stage for a potential revival in sales even as Hewlett-Packard and Dell Inc struggle just to stay level.

Earlier this year, Apple had also launched an updated MacBook Air - a product analysts say spawned over 20 touch-enabled designs from rivals called "Ultrabooks," which run Microsoft Corp's upcoming Windows 8 software.

Apple remains No. 3 in U.S. market share behind HP and Dell. But the Mac's premium pricing, at $1,000 and above, and its subsequent outsized margins mean a spike in revenue growth can give its bottom line a significant boost.

"The pricing and feature set of the refreshed iMac present an attractive combination, and I would not be surprised to see the new iMac stimulate desktop sales in the December quarter and beyond," Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said.

The decades-old Macintosh line that helped set a stumbling computer company back on its feet -- today overshadowed in both revenue and media appeal by the popular iPhone and iPad -- saw growth drop to single-digit percentages in the first two quarters of 2012 for the first time since 2009.

Yet sales outgrew the PC market, overall, by more than seven times over the 12 months to June, according to CEO Tim Cook, and has outpaced PC growth over the last six years.   Continued...

 
Customers gather outside an Apple store before the release of iPhone 5 in Munich early September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Dalder