The $5B/Quarter (or so) “Parlor Game”: Guessing Mac Unit Sales

If not for one new smartphone and now-two new tablets per year, this would actually be a very big deal.

Instead? It’s a $20B/yr. sideshow. Post-PC, indeed, and really puts the arc of Apple Inc. in perspective even as it shows no signs of giving up on Mac.

Anyway, Gartner and IDC just released their quarterly growth estimates (or lack thereof) for the PC market worldwide and in the US. Since Apple doesn’t sell around 5M Macs per quarter, it doesn’t show up in the “Top 5” worldwide PC vendor list for either firm, so there’s no estimate given in either press release (my wild guess is they do have an office pool – maybe even a secret Gartner/IDC competition – to see who’s closest to the mark). Instead, Apple “qualifies” as a consistent “Top 5” US shipment vendor.

To this end, Gartner’s estimating a 1.3% year-over-year unit decline in Mac sales in the US, with IDC estimating a YOY unit decline of 1.7%. Which is interesting, because both firms have never been this “in agreement” for as long as I’ve been tracking the shipment estimates (calendar Q1 2012). Usually, their estimates are at least a few percentage points apart – and two quarters ago, more than 30.

Granted, Gartner and IDC’s US shipment estimates don’t extrapolate to the entire world at all. But hey – it’s still fun to try! 😀 I know, “apples and oranges”, but here’s a quick chart of Gartner US estimates, IDC US estimates, and actual worldwide Mac unit growth rate (YOY) from calendar Q1 2012:


If both firms are generally correct about flat to slightly negative Mac US shipment growth in Apple’s fiscal Q3, will “rest of world” make up the difference, as was the case last quarter? We’ll know soon.


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