Apple Inc. Continues Its PC Market Share Grab With the Mac

By Ashraf

Apple's MacBook. Image source: Apple.

Apple just reported yet another quarter of year-over-year growth in its Mac business, once again running counter to the broader decline in the PC market. Even more interestingly, this share gain wasn't a result of the company's simply dropping prices in order to stimulate demand. Indeed, Mac unit sales grew by 3% year over year but Mac revenue increased by 4%, implying a slight jump in average selling prices.

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In order to better understand the key drivers of the Mac business, let's take a look at what management had to say about it on the call.

What drove Mac growth?According to Apple CFO Luca Maestri, the year-over-year growth in Mac sales was "driven primarily by the great customer response to [Apple's] new MacBook."

Maestri also said that MacBook Pro sales remained robust.

In addition to market segment share gains, Apple may also be seeing a shift in mix from MacBook Air models to the new MacBook. Since the average selling prices on the latter are certainly higher than those on the former, this may have been a key factor behind the slight average selling price growth.

Another thing that makes the results even more impressive is that Maestri said that the company exited its most recent quarter with Mac channel inventory below the company's five- to seven-week target range.This is a good indicator that Apple is seeing honest-to-goodness end-user demand growth for its Macs.

Can the share gains continue?Apple has been gaining PC share for quite some time, and I believe that it will continue to do so in the coming quarters or years.

Why do I have confidence that it can keep gaining share? Simple.

Sean Chandler, writing for Seeking Alpha, recently pointed out that Apple's high-volume MacBook Air product has, in a number of ways, gotten quite stale. He also points out-- I'd argue rightly-- that from an industrial design perspective, the Air is old. I would also add that the displays on these systems are quite far behind what the competition offers.

What's interesting, though, is that despite these facts, Apple is still managing to gain share against the rest of the Windows PC vendors.

If Apple can do this well with such a "dated" product lineup, things should only get better once the company gets around to refreshing it.

Stay tuned for a refresh soonI believe that Apple will do a comprehensive refresh of its MacBook offerings during the first half of 2016. I suspect that all of the models, aside from the 12-inch MacBook, will see overhauls in industrial design and will come equipped with newer, much higher-quality displays.

All of the new systems should see nice performance boosts as soon as Apple transitions them all to use Intel's new Skylake processors. Apple also tends to boost the specifications in other areas as well, including storage performance, wireless connectivity, and so on.

Once Apple brings these updated systems out, I believe that the Mac lineup will be even stronger relative to other Windows-based PCs than the current lineup is today, positioning the company for further share gains in the PC market.

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Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends 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.

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