Sales of PowerBooks and iBooks to vendors slipped four percent domestically and 3.3 percent internationally in the calendar fourth quarter of 2000, giving
the lowest worldwide growth rate year-over-year among all laptop PC makers, a new market report says.
The results of preliminary fourth-quarter data for 2000 from market researcher
shows Apple slipped from fifth to eighth place in domestic laptop sales to vendors with 2.9 percent market share and fell from fifth to tenth place in worldwide sales with 2.2 percent market share. Apple had 7 percent domestically and 5.5 percent worldwide in fourth quarter sales for 1999.
In terms of actual units sold to dealers, Dataquest figures show Apple shipped 149,000 laptop Macs in the fourth quarter of 2000, compared to 309,900 units in the same quarter a year earlier. The figures from 2000 are in line with Apple’s official numbers released on January 17, but are some 10,000 units off the Apple results reported for the fourth quarter of 1999.
The results are based on research in talking with vendors, such as Apple, who provide Dataquest with numbers of unit shipments. The numbers are units sold to dealers, such as catalog houses, CompUSA and independent Apple retailers. They are not reflective of units sold directly to end-users.
US LAPTOP SALES – 4Q 2000
Apple (2.9%) (5th place at 7 percent in 4Q ’99)
WORLDWIDE LAPTOP SALES – 4Q 2000
Apple (2.2%) (5th place at 5.5 percent in 4Q ’99)
The results give further evidence that the glut of Apple laptop computers as well as desktops on shelves in the last three months of the year had a profound affect on sales and earnings. Apple announced on January 17 a
fiscal first-quarter loss
of US$195 million, or 58 cents a share, before a new accounting procedure. Apple said its net loss for the period — its first in three years — was $247 million, or 73 cents a share, excluding investment gains and losses. At the same time, the company said it had squashed its bloated inventory from 11 weeks in late September to 5.5 weeks at year’s end.
But despite its ability to clear a large amount of inventory, the Dataquest results show Apple was unable to clear its warehouses as fast as it would have liked because dealers and retailers couldn’t and wouldn’t buy more iBook and PowerBook units as they were having difficulty selling what they had.
While the news was bad for Apple, the overall notebook market showed amazing growth in a period when desktop PC sales dropped like a rock. Worldwide, notebook shipments grew 21 percent year over year during the fourth quarter compared with desktop PC growth of 1.6 percent, Dataquest said. In the US, notebook shipments increased 6 percent from ’99, while desktop PC shipments stalled at a tenth of a percent.
IBM captured first place in worldwide notebook shipments during the period with 13.5 percent market share. Dell moved from third to second place, gaining 1.5 percent to a 13 percent share. Toshiba came in third at 12.5 percent share, losing 1.5 points year-over-year.
Value and price becoming more important
Despite the upsurge in laptop sales, the evidence is clear that its getting tougher and tougher to sell notebook as well as desktop PCs, according to Dataquest analyst Mostafa Maarouf.
“The growth is pretty good for notebooks, but when times get tough and the economy takes a hit, it’s generally the big players like IBM and Dell that can absorb prices cuts and a slump in sales,” Maarouf told MacCentral. “Many of the companies that did better in the quarter in laptop sales did so by cutting prices. It’s usually the ones with the bigger share to start with that can afford to do that.”
Among Windows-based laptop makers, Maarouf said Hewlett-Packard more than doubled its laptop shipments domestically last quarter while Dell slashed prices to solidify its market share.
“The number of new buyers is relatively low now,” Dataquest analyst Charles Smulders told MacCentral. “As a result, we’re moving more into an environment where replacements, or upgrades, are becoming more important. Those replacements are prone to more economic effects, so people look more carefully at product features and price when the economy softens. They’re saying, ‘I’ve already got a laptop. Do I need upgrade it now or wait?'”
In the case of laptops, it appears people perceive better value of desktop PCs, Smulders said. “Features are improving on laptops and so are prices, although they are much more expensive than desktop units. It appears those who are buying are seeing better value for their dollar.”
When asked by MacCentral, Apple had no comment on the Dataquest results.