updated 04:55 pm EST, Thu March 5, 2009
Apple holds ASPs
Apple has so far avoided the "permanent and structural" collapse of overall PC average selling prices and subsequent decline in revenue, according to TBR analyst Ezra Gottheil. The trend is explained by the ongoing economic recession and the gaining popularity of low-priced netbooks. Combining numbers from Apple, Dell, HP and Lenovo, the analyst saw a 13 percent drop in average selling price (ASP) and an 18 percent decline in PC revenue just in the fourth quarter of 2008.
"ASPs have been declining over the long term," Gottheil admitted, "but the fall-off became steeper in 2008 and the bottom dropped out in 4Q08."
Despite the "dramatic and frightening economic crisis," overall unit volume has only fallen by five percent. Apple may not be immune to the lackluster sales numbers, but it diverges from the other companies by maintaining its profit margins and price points.
"Apple's a special case in that not only are its ASPs much higher than the others," Gottheil noted, "but also they have been amazingly flat over the eight years of data that I have, while the others have showed a steady erosion. The differences have only gotten wider over the years."
Although the Mac-maker has established fairly rigid ASPs across the better part of a decade, the company has seen an eight percent decline from $1,532 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to $1,408 at the end of last year. The analyst contributed the change to the introduction of the new MacBook in October, with a new price point on the MacBook White, and the aluminum-unibody notebook that bridged the gap between MacBooks and MacBook Pros.
Gottheil expects Apple to eventually produce a netbook, despite Steve Jobs' comments that "we [Apple] don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." The analyst also believes that Apple has room to drop its prices to adjust for a decline in sales. "They can profitably produce Macs at lower prices," he says. "Still high quality, just not as much horsepower." [via Fortune]