May 18th, 2009
by Arik Hesseldahl.
Market research firm NPD released its retail sales figures for Macs and iPods today. Analysts, bracing for a serious decline got only a small one from Mac sales and called it good news. Slightly down is the new up, apparently. IPod sales were down a little more than some expected however.
While NPD doesn’t release specific unit sales numbers to non-clients, analysts like Gene Munster at PiperJaffray have seen them and parsed them out in a research note issued today.
First the good news. Mac sales were down 1.8% year-on-year. This is good news Munster writes, because it suggests that Apple will finish its fiscal third quarter ending in June having sold between 2.1 million and 2.3 million Macs, which would represent a drop of between 8% and 16% over quarter ended in June 2008. This suggests, Munster argues that Apple’s Mac sales will be pretty close to the consensus estimates.
Additionally, the average selling price of a Mac, Munster writes, was about the same in April, as it was at the end of the March quarter when it was $1,329, and he expects ASPs to stay in the same place. At that average price and those estimated volumes, by my reckoning, you can see Apple turning in Mac sales of between $2.8 and $3 billion, which would be a drop form $3.16 billion in the same period last year.
On the iPod side of the business, NPD reported sales down 9% over April 2008. This leads Munster to estimate iPod unit sales in the ballpark of 9.5 million to 10.5 million, which would represent a drop of between 5% and 14%. It would be the first year-on-year drop in quarterly iPod sales ever, the possibility of which I wrote about last year.
The new iPod shuffle, Munster says, is helping maintain unit sales, but its $79 price tag, coupled with the $49 price on the older one-gigabyte shuffle, are serving to tamp down the average selling price of the iPod. ASPs on the iPod were $171 in the second quarter of 2008, and dropped by a full $20 to $151 by the second quarter of 2009. As NPD tells it, they fell an additional 11% in April which would be about $135.
Assuming the iPod ASP stays where it is, my back-of-the envelope calculations suggest iPod revenues in the range of $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion. However Munster thinks the iPod ASP will finish the quarter down only 7%, to about $140, which would push the upper range of the revenue forecast up to $1.47 billion. Last year at this time, iPod sales were $1.68 billion. Yet it must be said, every quarter I’ve expected iPod unit sales to actually decline year-on-year, Apple has managed to eke out some growth, however small.