Sales of Macs to first time buyers is up in Appleis retail stores "to about 50 percent," according to Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer in a financial call to analysts covering Appleis March quarter results. Based on information Apple collected during its most recent buyer survey, interest in the Mac rose significantly outside of the traditional consumer base that already owns at least one Mac.
"We remained very, very confident in our retail stores," said Mr. Oppenheimer. "They are delivering strong growth to the company and are new to Mac percent in the quarter actually rose to about 50%."
Apple has heretofore cited the number of "Switchers" at Apple retail stores representing 40% of new Mac sales. Apple appears to now be calling those sales "new to Mac," which is perhaps a more accurate term to reflect those customers who are buying a Mac for the first time.
Appleis switch to Intel-based processors is thought to play a roll in the number of new to the Mac buyers, but Apple doesnit break out the specific numbers for Intel versus PowerPC Macs sold for the quarter. Currently, the iMac, Mac mini, and MacBook Pro all use Intel Core processors, while the iBook, Power Mac, and Xserve all use PowerPC processors. Apple plans to complete the transition to Intel chips for all of its products before the end of 2006.
"As you know," Mr. Oppenheimer said in response to a question from an analyst, "we donit release the specific units on each one of those, but I would share with you that the Intel-based iMac did very well in the quarter."
As consumer interest and demand for the Mac increases, Apple expects the need for more retail stores will rise, too. The company plans on opening about 30 stores in the United States this year to help meet demand, with 40 new stores all told throughout the world.
Apple also announced Wednesday that it shipped 1.112 million Macs for the quarter, an increase of 4 percent over the same quarter last year.
[Update: This story was updated to more accurately reflect comments from Mr. Oppenheimer. It also includes additional information about these numbers. - Editor]