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.