Apple seems to have corrected the supply shortage that troubled the introduction of its flat-panel iMac, but it’s not clear if consumer demand has kept up with the increase in production, according to a
Last week the analyst firm of Morgan Stanley cautioned that some Wall Street estimates for iMac sales may be too high and that Apple may not ship that many more iMacs this quarter than the 220,000 it sold last quarter. Monday the firm of Salomon Smith Barney reported that its estimate of 265,000 units might also be too optimistic, but said sales of the older iMac model, as well as the eMac, should still allow Apple to meet sales and earnings targets.
The article notes that Morgan Stanley says the number of flat-panel iMacs in the hands of retailers and distributors is growing. “Contacts suggest that flat-panel iMac inventory is in the one- to 1.3-month range — which, while not alarmingly high, supports our thesis that demand has slowed from earlier levels,” according to the firm.
However, the fact that more iMacs are available may not in itself be a cause for concern, according to ZDNet. Runkle and other analysts said that some build-up is to be expected and could alleviate the need for Apple to fly in the machines from Taiwan.
“A lot of investors seem to be concerned that inventories are building, when in fact that’s their plan,” Needham analyst Charles Wolf said. “As far as I can see the quarter is tracking OK. I know there is a lot of concern about consumer spending.”
Financial analyst David Bailey of Gerard Klauer Mattison added that April and May are typically extremely slow consumer months, so people could expect to see iMac sales decline based on typical seasonal patterns. He said those seasonal patterns could be more severe this year, given the economy.
An Apple representative declined to comment further on iMac sales, noting that the company is in a quiet period as Apple nears the end of the June quarter, according to ZDNet.
However, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told
iMac sales were “good.”
Jobs also talked with CNET News about Apple’s decision to sell the eMac to the general public and not just into education markets. What about his statement in January that the CRT was “dead” considering that the eMac has such a screen?
“Flat-panel prices have not necessarily cooperated with what we wanted,” Jobs said. “So (with) the iMac, as you know, we had to ramp the price $100 due to the display pricing. So that does create room for the eMac underneath it. Remember, it is $300 less. You don’t get that luscious flat-panel display, but you do save $300. I think everyone will want the iMac, but the eMac is a pretty good product for $300 less.”