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Cagey Apple Sold 138,000 mini's in Q2, Analyst Believes

TMO Exclusive - Cagey Apple Sold 138,000 mini's in Q2, Analyst Believes

by , 3:00 PM EDT, April 15th, 2005

Despite not wanting to publicly say just how many Mac mini systems it sold worldwide in the first quarter of this year, one market analyst has determined Apple Computer moved some 138,000 of the newest Mac desktop -- more than double what most had predicted.

Using Apple's own data, Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Gene Munster came to his conclusion based on the total number of flat panel iMacs, eMacs and Mac mini's sold, the total revenue of the group and the approximate average selling price of each model.

With only 69 days to sell the Mac mini in the fiscal second-quarter instead of 90 days, Mr. Munster called the results of the Mac mini a "remarkable" number.

"Apple has got to be very proud of these results for the Mac mini," Mr. Munster said. "This consumer Mac is selling well and I think Apple can call this a success."

Apple announced the Mac mini on January 11 and began selling it on Saturday, Jan. 22 in the U.S. and worldwide on Saturday, Jan. 29.

Using the same type of numbers to calculate Mac mini sales, Mr. Munster also determined Apple sold 1.8 million units of the iPod shuffle worldwide in the quarter and 3.5 million iPod and iPod mini's.

Why oh why

So why wouldn't Apple want to tell everyone just how successful the Mac mini has been? "All I can think of is that while they might have wanted to show their excitement, they did want to look too happy and tip off their competitors who have been watching the Mac mini closely since it was launched," Mr. Munster commented.

During Wednesday's conference call with analysts to discuss its fiscal second-quarter earnings results, senior vice president and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer refused to release sales figures on the Mac mini and refused to elaborate in-depth. Mr. Oppenheimer would only say, "we were very pleased with customer response and sales (to the Mac mini), and anecdotally, we think that existing Mac customers and Windows customers are buying the Mac mini."

Despite saying Apple would no longer offer in-depth breakdowns of individual product sales beginning at the end of the current quarter, Apple began the new policy a little early with the Mac mini and iPod models, giving no reason as to why.

The reason for the new policy: "We want to more closely align the reporting we provide for our Mac and music business," said Mr. Oppenheimer. "We believe this will provide consistency with a level of detail we provide for our music business as well as the level of detail provided by our major competitors in the personal computer industry."

A number of analysts, including Mr. Munster, told TMO that Mr. Oppenheimer was correct in saying many companies are switching to the much vaguer policy of releasing exacting sales numbers, but said such a policy makes it difficult for investors and analysts to determine what segments of Apple's business are doing well and which ones are not.

"It's going to get tougher and tougher to figure out how successful any one product is," Mr. Munster said. "We're going to have to estimate and our level of accuracy will be difficult to determine. Taking away this level of detail, while Apple might consider it wise, many will question if they have something to hide."

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