Apple slips to 5th place, but probably for the right reason

Apple slipped from fourth to fifth place in the global PC market in the second quarter of the year, according to new market intelligence data.

The whole market dropped significantly, but Apple was hit particularly hard – though likely for the right reason…

IDC said that while worldwide PC shipments fell 15.3% year-on-year, Mac sales fell by a more dramatic 22.5% between Q2 2021 and the same quarter this year.

The overall problem, says the company, was a mix of supply and demand.

Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs declined 15.3% year over year to 71.3 million units in the second quarter of 2022 (2Q22), according to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. This was the second consecutive quarter of lower shipments following two years of growth. The decline was worse than expected as supply and logistics further deteriorated due to the lockdowns in China and persistent macroeconomic headwinds.

“Fears over a recession continue to mount and weaken demand across segments,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device trackers. “Consumer demand for PCs has weakened in the near term and is at risk of perishing in the long term as consumers become more cautious about their spending and once again grow accustomed to computing across device types such as phones and tablets. Meanwhile, commercial demand has been more robust although it has also declined as businesses delay purchases.”

These things are all relative, however. The pandemic dramatically boosted demand for PCs as people worked from home, so it set a very high bar for comparison.

Despite the recent decline and weakening demand, the total PC volume is still comparable to the beginning of the pandemic when volumes reached 74.3 million in the second quarter of 2020 and the market is still well above pre-pandemic levels as volumes in the second quarter of 2018 and 2019 were 62.1 million and 65.1 million units respectively.

Apple’s premium pricing may be one reason for the company to be hit harder at a time when consumers are being more careful with their money, but it also seems likely that Q2 demand would be suppressed by customers waiting for the M2 MacBook Air to go on sale .

Apple announced the new machine at the beginning of June, when there was still almost a whole month of the quarter remaining – but it didn’t go on sale until July 8, in the following quarter.

The Cupertino company certainly gave people plenty of reason to wait. First, a completely new design, with thinner bezels and two new colors.

Completely reimagined around the M2, MacBook Air has a new design that is remarkably thin from every angle. With a durable, all-aluminum unibody enclosure that feels incredibly solid and is built to last, it measures just 11.3 millimeters thin, is only 2.7 pounds, and delivers an astonishing 20 percent reduction in volume from the previous generation. And with the power efficiency of M2, all of the capabilities of MacBook Air are built into a silent, fanless design. In addition to silver and space gray, MacBook Air is now available in two stunning new finishes: midnight and starlight.

Second, a combination of a claimed 18-hour battery life (likely to equate to true all-day battery life in real-life usage), and the kind of performance never before seen in Apple’s entry-level laptop.

With M2, intensive workloads like editing complex timelines in Final Cut Pro are nearly 40 percent faster than the previous generation, and up to 15x faster for customers who haven’t upgraded to Apple silicon.

While IDC did not comment on this factor, it does expect Mac sales to rebound in the current quarter, while it makes no such prediction for the global PC market as a whole.

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Naveen Kumar

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