updated 12:15 pm EST, Wed January 24, 2007
Needham: Apple on track
Apple is on the right track to lure curious Windows users into its Mac camp, according to Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf. "The Apple Stores were originally conceived to provide Macintosh users with a shopping experience that was superior to what they found in computer and consumer electronics chains," Wolf said. "As store traffic swelled, Apple discovered it had an opportunity to attract Windows users to the Mac platform as well." The analyst points to iLife, Apple's suite of digital content applications for managing music, photos, and more as the initial lure for non-Mac users. "The iPod and iPod accessories subsequently became a potent combination in the seduction," Wolf added. Apple reported a lower than expected figure for visitors per retail store, down 18 percent from the previous period. Wolf believes the 18 percent drop is a result of the Cupertino-based company's higher store count, as the company reported a record 28 million store visitors in spite of declines in its per-store figures.
"The decline in same-store sales solely reflected a sharp decline in iPod sales," the analyst wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "Last year, the Apple Stores were the only reliable source for iPods. This year, iPods were available in 40,000 locations, mostly in the U.S. There was an inevitable decline in iPod sales at the Apple Stores, then, because of the rapid expansion of the iPod's distribution."
Apple's same-store Mac revenues increased 25 percent over the same period, which failed to offset a 38 percent decline in non-Mac revenues. Mac sales represented 47 percent of total store sales in December, a 17 percent rise over its 30 percent figure a year ago.
"The stores are shifting their strategic focus," said Wolf. "Their key priority is to convert Windows users to the Mac and grow Mac sales. This spring, Apple will introduce Mac OS 10.5. Boot Camp, a key component in 10.5, will enable Mac to run both Windows and Mac applications. We expect the stores to play a pivotal role in educating the hoards of Windows users visiting the stores about this feature."
Apple retail stores will also likely play an important role in signing up customers for Apple's forthcoming iPhone -- slated to ship in June -- alongside Cingular carrier stores which will also sell the multimedia device.