updated 10:50 pm EST, Sun March 6, 2011
Analyst puts 1.1m MacBook Airs in early tally
An estimate by Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this weekend suggested Apple may have had a blockbuster first quarter of sales for the redesigned MacBook Air. Asian supplier checks reportedly saw Apple ship about 1.1 million of the 11- and 13-inch systems, or 38 percent of Apple's 2.9 million portable Macs. Kuo told AppleInsider he had previously estimated 700,000 systems shipping in a prediction just two days after they had been made public.
The number would slump to 700,000 in the winter quarter ending this month, Kuo understood, but wouldn't hurt Apple's sales figures. Despite the typical post-holiday lull, the researcher had heard Apple had planned to ship a record high 4.5 million Macs, the best it would ever have managed in a quarter. A much faster new MacBook Pro was to be partly responsible by rekindling sales of Apple's most popular notebook line.
The growth could make Apple the only major computer builder to see its shipment numbers grow in the quarter, according to Kuo. Apple has usually had to fend off growth from fast-moving companies such as Toshiba and Samsung, but these are often vulnerable to the end of the holidays. Giants such as Acer were rumored to have faced an iPad effect in December as their netbook and low-end notebook shipments dropped.
The estimate didn't explain the boom other the Air being a new design, but its much lower starting price and the ultraportability of the 11-inch model have frequently been credited with the difference. Apple consciously aimed to bring some of the iPad's portability and instant responsiveness to the Mac and may have reached an audience that normally wouldn't opt for ultraportables or the Mac as a whole.