Barclays: MacBook Pro/Air Refresh Will Take Share from PCs

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes believes that Apple will announce new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models “in the near future” (think WWDC), and that the refresh could goose sales of Apple’s portables by a million units per quarter. The result, he told clients, is that Apple will take share away from PCs.

The comments came in a research note obtained by The Mac Observer that focused on the role of NAND memory and solid state drives (SSDs) in the computer market. Mr. Reitzes believes that, “consumers are willing to pay a premium for design and performance benefits - even if it means less storage.” More importantly, he believes that Apple is driving this trend and is benefitting from it.

With the increase of NAND memory and SSD-based devices, Mr. Retizes believes that the traditional hard drive (HDD) market—and computers that use them—are going to be on the receiving end of Apple hurt.

“We believe that Apple will be launching a refreshed line of MacBook Pros equipped with NAND storage and MacBook Airs with more NAND storage options in the very near future,” Mr. Reitzes wrote. “We believe these products combined can ramp quarterly demand for Macs by up to 1 million incremental units on a run rate basis - taking over a point of share from HDD-based PCs.”

Looking less specifically at Mac sales, the analyst said that the success of tablets, and smartphones to a lesser extent, is also taking its toll on HDD-based PCs.

To wit: “Last week (5/22), Dell acknowledged that PC demand was being impacted by strong sales of Tablets and Smartphones (both users of NAND flash). We believe that more traditional PC players will acknowledge the impact of this cannibalization.”

Mr. Reitzes believes we’ll hear more about Apple’s plans for NAND and SSDs during June’s World Wide Developer Conference, “and how the company intends to maximize design and performance.”

He added, “Also, we expect to hear about improvements to iCloud that could make consumers even more comfortable with cloud-based storage in the “Post-PC era.”

Should the analyst’s predictions bear out, Apple could see its sales of Macs jump to more than five million units per quarter. In the most recent quarter, Apple reported sales of 4 million Macs.

Barclays is maintaining its US$750 price target on AAPL, and Mr. Reitzes reiterated his “Overweight” rating on the stock.

Shares of AAPL ended the day higher at $579.17, up $6.90 (+1.21%), on volume of 18.9 million shares changing hands.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.