While most computer companies faced hard times last year (especially in the fourth quarter of calendar 2008), Apple saw growing sales throughout the period. That said, things took a downturn in January 2009.
According to data from NPD Group, unit sales of Apple computers fell 6 percent as compared to sales from January 2008, while revenue of Mac sales fell 11 percent.
Interestingly enough, unit sales of Windows-based PCs rose 13 percent as compared to the same month last year, though revenue stayed at the same level -- signifying that consumers were purchasing more PCs but at lower price points.
According to InformationWeek, NPD analyst Stephen Baker believes that Apple sales fell because of the relatively high price of Macs (which are definitely unattractive during tough economic times) and that there haven’t been a new product for Apple desktop users, who haven’t seen an iMac refresh since in April.
Could price sensitive Mac users be switching to PCs due to price? Baker doesn’t believe so, saying, "I don't think there's a lot of Apple people switching. We think people just aren't buying."
Those who are die-hard Mac users tend to be pretty loyal to Apple and will wait for the next big thing from the company rather than switch platforms. The fact is, though, that the so-called “Apple tax” is undoubtedly a heavier weight during a recession.
A new iMac, and especially a new Mac Mini, could reinvigorate sales. Of course, the next version of both products are still in the rumor stage, so we won’t know for sure until the next Apple media event.
So if Mac faithful aren’t switching, what has Windows PC sales up 13 percent over last year? It could be the cheaper prices brought on by sales and other pressures to move excess inventory left over from 2008. The growing popularity of netbooks -- an area of continued growth -- is likely another big helper in the segment.