PC Notebook Shipments Tank, Apple’s MacBook Air Surges

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The global economy and shortages of hard disk drives (HDD) sent shipments of notebook computers by Taiwan makers down 5.7 percent in the fourth calendar quarter. However, Apple’s MacBook Air shipments were up 20 percent for the quarter, according to Digitimes on Monday. The MacBook Air doesn’t use a conventional hard disk drive and isn’t affected by the HDD shortage.

Globally, the situation was even worse, with an 8.7 percent drop, amounting to a total of 48.59 million notebooks shipped. Apple, on the other hand, raised its shipments of MacBook Airs to 1.2 million units in the 4th quarter, up from 1.0 million the previous quarter. Apple was the only company to see an increase in shipments.

MacBook Air

MacBook Air (source: Apple)

When the news first broke about the flooding in Thailand, many observers saw this as an opportunity for the Solid State Drive (SSD) manufacturers to take up the slack. The Apple MacBook Air certainly seems to have benefited from the situation. In fact, Apple bought 23 percent of the world’s supply of NAND Flash memory last quarter, according to CNNMoney recently.

With rumors of the MacBook Air line expanding to a 15-inch version, the days of traditional rotating hard disks in Apple notebooks are certainly numbered.

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In fact, Apple bought 23 percent of the world?s supply of NAND Flash memory last quarter, according to CNNMoney recently.

Good for Apple, maybe not so good for consumers, given the relative premium Apple charges on BTO upgrades.


It’s hard to see how much the HDD production snags helped the MacBook Air vs. how many they would have sold last quarter on a level playing field.  My guess is that the vast majority of people chose the Air because they wanted the Air and the HDD wasn’t an issue for them.  I also suspect the HDD issue only affected those users that were committed to getting PCs and just had to wait longer to get them, essentially meaning the HDD issue led to very few ‘switcher’s’.

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