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Tough economy cooling MacBook demand

updated 05:05 pm EST, Wed February 4, 2009

ChangeWave on Mac Demand

A new study published today by ChangeWave reveals that the sudden recession has likely had a chilling effect on MacBook sales. As the number of people looking to buy notebooks over the next 90 days has dipped from 8 to 6 percent in January, fewer are also looking to buy one of Apple's portables. Where 33 percent of notebook shoppers studied were looking to buy a MacBook in November, a significantly smaller 27 percent were considering the same move just two months later.

The reduction in demand has been sharp enough to reverse a trend that has seen more prospective Mac users eying portables. Although demand for desktops as a whole cooled from 6 to 5 percent between November and January, those in the group looking to buy an iMac or a similar Apple desktop actually increased slightly from 27 to 28 percent.

Much of the shrink is attributed to the higher-than-average cost of the MacBook line, which renders Apple more susceptible to an economic recession. The switch is evidenced by a rush of netbook demand, with nearly one in five (19 percent) of respondents having bought one of the mini notebooks and 14 percent considering one in the next 90 days.

Significantly, demand for the Mac OS X operating system itself has also shrunk a full 5 percent down to 29 percent, while those seeking the older Windows XP platform grew slightly in numbers. Much of this is again pinned on a shift to netbooks, which are now the single most common system type likely to run the older Microsoft OS.

Lower iPhone shipments during the holidays partly reflect the economy's impact on electronics as a whole. The economy has been settling, with only 41 percent saying they would spend less in the next 90 days versus 43 percent two months ago, but far fewer said they would spend more. Only 15 percent said they would increase spending in the upcoming period where 23 percent had said the same in November.

In spite of the pressure as of late, Apple has remained on the fence regarding netbooks. Company COO Tim Cook has said the company has "ideas" about approaching the category but has also warned that most models are too slow and too cramped to make most users happy, giving Apple reason to hesitate unless netbooks prove to be consistently successful.

by MacNN Staff



  1. graxspoo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Lack of FW400

    One other thing cooling the demand for these: no FireWire. I would buy one if they had it. Won't consider it without. We all know the arguments pro and con. That's still where I stand. I'm due for an upgrade too.

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    General MacBook Line

    I believe the article was generalizing the MacBook line to include the Pro models. The comment above suggesting that the slowdown of consumer MacBook sales being due to lack of firewire is just bitter. Don't get me wrong, I think Apple should have tried a little harder to get the FW I/O included, but I seriously doubt the lack of FW in the consumer line has had any notable impact. Most purchasers of the consumer line don't even know what firewire or USB for that matter is. We are talking about a scale of sales here. Yes, it has impacted the above users decision to purchase a MacBook.

    The decline is all about the economy right now. It has personally effect my planned purchasing decisions for this year, to include an iPhone, and possible a MacBook Pro as I'm still using a PowerBook for a portable. Fortunately I have a newer iMac for the more processor intensive apps.

  1. graxspoo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bad juju

    Its not just "some small segment of MacBook users need FireWire and therefore will not buy the new models"... Its that this segment is the creative bunch who are typically Apple's biggest boosters. Am I bitter? Absolutely. Guess what, I'm not going to be telling anyone that these MacBooks are worth the money. Apple is getting greedy, and trying to squeeze us at exactly the moment that our purses are snapping shut. Big mistake.

  1. ff11

    Joined: Dec 1969


    All laptops

    From the graphs, the demand for all laptops fell, including the Macbook. In fact it seems the demand for Macbooks didn't fall as much (13% drop from ~32% to 28% of respondents) as the demand for laptops in general did (25% drop from 8% to 6%). Still a bummer for Apple, but it seems they are not doing THAT badly considering the economy in general.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: General MacBook Line

    The problem with your argument is that you look at Apple's notebook line the way Apple wants you to, not the way actual consumers look at it.

    The MacBook may be called the 'consumer' model, but its sales are not limited to consumers. Many a professional want a small footprint capable computer. The Air and Pro models are too expensive (and the "Pro" models too big).

    So, while 'consumers' may not care about firewire, many a potential MacBook buyer does care.

    And that's where the problems lie. Those users (like graxspoo, I'm sure) believe the reason Firewire is NOT in the MacBook has nothing to do with "We couldn't fit it in there" (yeah, right, because Apple's engineers just aren't capable enough, I guess) but more to do with "What! These damn "Pro" users are buying our "cheap" model, even without the "Pro" features of ExpressCard slot or Firewire 800. Guess we need to take another "Pro" feature out to try to upsell them to the "Pro" model. Goodbye Firewire 400!".

    So do not be surprised if the next MacBook removes bluetooth or on-board ethernet if those larger models don't pick up their slack!

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The difference

    If MacBook had FireWire, there would be practically no difference between the MB and MBP, except from the extra two inches of screen real estate. Two inches can meen a lot in some situations... But I doubt that they're worth extra $700 on a MBP. Apple HAD to remove something from MB in order to prevent all those PB owners from refreshing their old Mac with a MB instead of MBP.

  1. dimmer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Want a MacBook with FireWire? It's newly updated and costs $999. This is SO not an argument. Just people who like to whine... Now, can I have my ABD back?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: the difference

    So what you're saying is that Firewire and 2 inches is worth $700? Or that Apple is basically overcharging customers on their Pro models?

    Or just that they did exactly what I said: They're taking out features to upsell to higher priced models.

    Its a money-grab, pure and simple. Oh, hey, just like, supposedly, MS and 5 versions of Windows.

  1. tcphoto

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not all about recession

    It appears that Apple groups MB with MBP. The creative professionals are likely turned off by the changes in the MBP and the lack of a timely update to the MacPro line in the past year. The masses love the iMac and MB lineup but the recession does effect those numbers but not as much as the pro lineup.

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    firewire problems

    I must say I've had my problems with firewire. As wonderful as I thought it was, the cable connectors are not that great and it's not that fast. I got an eSata controller for my MBPro and when it comes to speed, NOW WE ARE TALKING SPEED!

    This is a real hard drive for once, I just wish they had the expresscard slot in the macbook, but hey, fast external drive is for a pro, right?

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