Apple, Inc.'s Forthcoming Mac Refresh Can't Come Soon Enough

By Markets

The Mac isn't doing so hot right now. Image source: Apple.

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The latest estimates are out on the state of the PC market. Spoiler alert: The market is still stagnant. Both Gartnerand IDC have put out their most recent best guesses, and global shipments fell either 3.9% or 5.7%, depending on who you ask. This isn't surprising considering the age and maturity of the global PC market. I generally prefer IDC's numbers, so let's see what the market researcher has to say.


Q3 2016 Worldwide Units

Growth (YOY)


14.5 million


HP Inc.

14.4 million



10.8 million



5 million



4.7 million



18.6 million



68 million


Data source: IDC. Figures may not sum due to rounding. YOY = year over year.

Lenovo remains the market leader, and the rest of the usual suspects are there. However, there is an important trend worth discussing: Apple got crushed...again.

Do you see what happens when you don't refresh the Mac lineup? Do you see what happens?

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For many years, Apple enjoyed touting that it was continuously gaining share each quarter, as Mac unit volumes outperformed the broader market. The Mac either grew more, or declined by less, implying share gains.

This is now the second consecutive quarter where the Mac underperformed the broader market, implying share losses. In Q2, Apple's unit volumes fell 8.3%, compared to the broader market's 4.5% decline, according to IDC. For what it's worth, Apple's official reported numbers show its Mac units fell 11% in the second quarter.

Apple's Mac lineup has become stale, though, with the expected result of cooling demand. Some Macs haven't been updated in years, and the ones that have been updated recently don't have the latest and greatest Intel processors. The 27-inch iMac 5K is the only Mac with Skylake chips, a chip family that was launched in 2015.

The good news is that Apple is widely expected to be launching new Macs in just a matter of weeks, which will likely bring its computers up to speed. Hopefully, demand will pick back up if and when that happens. Responding to a customer email last month, CEO Tim Cook said to "stay tuned."

We're also seeing Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) continue to make inroads in the educational market. IDC notes that Chromebooks expectedly had another "banner quarter in the K-12 market" (Gartner's figures do not include Chromebooks). Of course, Apple also addresses the educational market with iPads as well as Macs, but neither can compete with Chromebooks on price.

The expected October event can't come soon enough -- and it'll be just in time for the holiday shopping season.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A and C shares), Apple, and Gartner. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.