It takes awhile before a trend in sales becomes definitive. The Mac’s downward sales for each Apple fiscal year are showing a trend now.
For some time now, I’ve been plotting the total Mac sales for each of Apple’s fiscal years. While the sales in each quarter can fluctuate and even increase year-over-year, it’s the accumulated sales each year that I routinely plot.
Up through Q417 it was hard to identify a noticeable trend. But, now, my sense is that Q418 punctuates an emerging trend. Here’s the data I have.
The real question has been this. Has Apple’s sporadic attention to regular Mac updates, over the past few years, cost Apple in unit sales? Of course, as of next quarter, Apple has declared that unit sales no longe matter. And the company may have a point.
Apple has just reported that Mac sales set a revenue record for all time. That’s not surprising given that the computational power and features of the Macs, notably the iMac Pro and MacBook Pros, are increasing considerably. Apple customers are feeling the bite of that cost trend.
But the problem is this. More Macs in the hands of customers means more synergy in the community. More apps. More consumer engagement. More education focus.
Fewer Macs sold each year is a bad thing, independent of how much money Apple earns. Taken to a logical extreme, Apple could sell half the Macs at twice the price and no one would be very happy about the Mac’s future. Apple’s fiscal approach seems like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The smartphone market is Apple’s forte. I expect Apple will do whatever it takes to flourish there. But Apple’s lack of devoted, regular updates, the new MacBook Air and Mac mini notwithstanding, creates a more fragile situation. And no amount of smugness over a single revenue record will provide a continuing foundation for this beloved, according to Apple, product category.