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PC Gains, Mac Falls in January 2009 Sales

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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • mac is a pc
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  • pharge
    A lot of the increase of windows-PC sale was due to the increase popularity of netbooks.... I guess
    Reply
  • TwoDigital
    I feel specifically left out here... I've built perhaps 100 "PCs" and since I buy them piece-by-piece I'm pretty sure nobody is able to count my purchases. Let's get onto fixing that. :)
    Reply
  • jsloan
    good point a mac is a pc, it's just comes with another os installed.

    i think pc sales are up because of the lower price. in this economic crisis mac prices have not come down, have not been discounted, it's basically the same old list price maybe a small discount or they introduce new model with higher price, but dont continue to offer older model at lower price. also, i would think people who don't want to run windows would just run some flavor os linux on their windows pc.
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  • pharge
    I have heard people using "Wintel" PC a lot. Should we start calling Mac as "Mactel" PC instead?...;)
    Reply
  • Gryphyn
    I don't think the "Mac IS a PC" argument flies anymore, considering Apple themselves made the distinction in THEIR OWN COMMERCIALS.

    Boo yah.
    Reply
  • joebob2000
    TwoDigitalI feel specifically left out here... I've built perhaps 100 "PCs" and since I buy them piece-by-piece I'm pretty sure nobody is able to count my purchases. Let's get onto fixing that.OK, we will go ahead and use that number as a baseline to compare the number of Macs that were underreported due to being built ala carte by enthusiasts... Let's see is that 100/0 or 0/100?

    Seriously, we do know how many computers are built and for what purpose (give or take a few percent). Apple buys chips from Intel, and we know how many. The number of Intel chips left over is how many went into windows or Linux systems. AMD sells chips only for windows/Linux systems. Microsoft sells a license for every PC legitimately built for windows. With these numbers, you know how many Macs there are, how many Windows PCs there are, and how many pirated windows/Linux pcs there are. Your computers certainly fall into one of these categories, unless you are building them with VIA processors in which case no one really cares. Don't worry, you aren't as special as you think.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    Is it just me, or is Tom's Hardware slowing down on news? Other tech sites have had this news up for days. Hell, the front page of Tom's wasn't even updated for a day.

    I'm not complaining, just wondering what has happened with the editorial team.
    Reply
  • jsloan
    GryphynI don't think the "Mac IS a PC" argument flies anymore, considering Apple themselves made the distinction in THEIR OWN COMMERCIALS. Boo yah.
    ? mac is not a pc, a pc = personal computer, isn't mac a personal computer, how is the hardware different from anyother laptop, the only difference is the os, the hardware is fairly generic.
    Reply
  • kelfen
    mac is hard to find support for games O.o
    Reply