According to the latest data by research firm NPD, Apple’s iPhone 4 and two year old iPhone 3GS continued to lead US smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2011. The data, based on NPD’s Mobile Phone Track and Smartphone Track services, shows declining smartphone prices reaching an average selling point of $135 in Q3, although ”consumers originally considered paying more”. The top five phones in Q3 according to NPD:
- 1 – Apple iPhone 4
- 2 – Apple iPhone 3GS
- 3 – HTC EVO 4G
- 4 – Motorola Droid 3
- 5 – Samsung Intensity II
Despite their age and typical slowdown in popularity and the rise of Google’s Android operating system in smartphone market share, the iPhone 4 and 3GS still lead sales in the United States. In October, Apple announced the iPhone 4S, which went on sale on October 14th in seven countries and reported over 4 million sales in the first weekend of availability. US carriers AT&T and Sprint said they were very pleased with the initial results of iPhone 4S pre-orders, which isn’t included in NPD data for Q3, but Apple didn’t provide specific US numbers for iPhone 4S sales. Alongside the iPhone 4S, however, Apple also introduced a new 8 GB iPhone 4 model, sold at $99 on a two-year contract, and kept the iPhone 3GS around for free with a carrier contract. At Apple’s Q4 2011, CEO Tim Cook said about the free iPhone 3GS:
We did it because we want the iPhone more accessible to a broader market and so not only did we take the 3GS to free in a postpaid plan, but we also lowered the price of the iPhone 4….we did both of those because as we looked at it, these are still fantastic products and we think we can do reasonably well in selling these in the postpaid market. It also has the advantage of having a lower price in the prepaid market…we did it for both the prepaid and postpaid markets, they are both very important to us. It has been our thinking for a while to do that.
The iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS run the latest version of iOS, but Apple made a major software feature of iOS 5, the voice-based assistant Siri, exclusive to the iPhone 4S. With a lower price point, it’s likely the iPhone 4 and 3GS will continue to be an important source of revenue from customers willing to get an iPhone, but not necessarily the (more expensive) new model.
According to the latest NPD data and a note issued by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster — reported by Business Insider — Mac sales for the first two months of Apple’s Q4 are up 22%, with Wall Street’s estimates averaging 16% growth for the entire quarter. Apple is expected to announce its Q4 results sometime in October, and back at the Q3 earnings call in July the company anticipated there would be a “future product transition” that would affect the September quarter — suggesting the next-generation iPhone would ship before the end of Q4.
As for the Mac, Munster indicates the release of OS X Lion, updated MacBook Airs and Mac minis on July 20 helped contributing to the 22% year-over-year growth in the same period; NPD data suggests Apple could sell between 4.4 and 4.6 million Macs in the quarter. In Q3, Apple sold 3.95 million Macs, and Tim Cook noted the MacBook Pros made up for the majority of Mac sales. It is no secret, however, that ever since the refresh in October 2010 the updated MacBook Air line has been growing in popularity among existing Mac users as well as new customers, with several analysts calling it Apple’s new crown jewel.
Meanwhile, Apple announced 1 million copies of Lion sold after 24 hours of availability, but hasn’t released new data since then. Apple has encouraged customers to upgrade to the new OS thanks to heavy promotion in the Mac App Store and by releasing a USB thumb drive for those unable to download the 4 GB OS installer. Lion also comes pre-installed on the new Macs released this summer, certainly another selling points for the Airs and minis.
Last month’s release of new MacBook Airs and OS X Lion seems to have given Apple a significant boost in sales for the first month of the September quarter. The latest statistics from NPD reveal that year-over-year, Mac sales were up by 26% – to put that into context it means that Mac growth outpaces the growth of the PC market six-fold.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes that if that kind of growth continues Apple will easily make the estimates of 4.5 million total Mac sales for the quarter. He noted to his clients that the Lion, MacBook Air and Mac Mini launches in mid-July helped inflate Mac sales for the month. However, he did caution them that “these tailwinds will fade throughout the September quarter and year-over-year compares get slightly tougher in the last two months of the quarter”.
The rapid Mac sales growth has seen the platform outpace the growth of the PC market for 21 consecutive quarters and most believe that trend will continue for some time yet. Ben Reitzes of Barclays notes that they expect Apple to continue to gain share in Macs in the long term, despite the iPad’s presence. He adds that their “estimate for Mac growth of 18 percent year-over-year for Apple’s C3Q, may turn out to be conservative even though the global economy appears to be slowing quite a bit.”
Citing data compiled by the NPD, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster says [via Barron's] Mac sales in April have been slow, mainly due to the MacBook refreshed last year that “set the bar high”, but is still nowhere to be seen in 2011. Indeed, speculation in the past months had pegged Apple’s white MacBook to be headed towards discontinuation, leaving room for the popular MacBook Airs as the new Mac OS X entry line.
Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster this afternoon offers an update on how Apple (AAPL) computer sales are trending: It was slow in April, he writes, according to U.S. sales data compiled by NPD, thanks to a MacBook refresh a year ago that set the bar high for Apple’s year-over-year comparison.
Apple shipped 9% more units in April than a year earlier, while the Street is modeling the entire June quarter to see an increase of 22%, to 4.2 million units.
NPD data posted in February revealed a 20% increase in year-over-year Mac sales, with Apple set to sell 3.6 million Macs in the quarter — as announced at the Q2 2011 earnings call, Apple eventually sold 3.76 million units. Munster is confident that, in spite of slow sales in April, Apple will hit the Street consensus of 22% growth for the entire June quarter; on the other side of the product line, iPod sales are also expected to be better than the 10-15% drop Munster initially projected.
Digital game downloads have been on the rise in recent years and according to the latest NPD report, a large portion of that increase can be attributed to mobile devices which count for nearly half of all video game downloads. The report, which focused solely on full game downloads (not micro-transactions, add-ons or previously purchased games), notes that even those who owned a console would generally download more games to their mobile devices.
Following mobile devices were personal computers as the second most common platform for downloading games, no doubt driven primarily by Steam, then consoles and finally portable gaming devices (Nintendo DS, Sony PSP). Obviously it should be pointed out that, typically, a full game download for a mobile device is priced far lower than a game for consoles and even computers. Nonetheless, Anita Frazier notes in the report “Mobile gaming represents one of the fastest growing segments of the digital games market, and potential for future growth remains strong.”
Interestingly, of those that have purchased a mobile game in the past three months, a surprising 60% said they still spend the same amount on console or portable gaming device games. The report also revealed that if a game was available in physical and digital form at the same time, at the same price, 75% would buy a physical copy because they liked to own a “real” copy – the remaining 25% mainly cited convenience as their reason.
New US sales data from the NPD Group show that Apple’s Mac sales have increased 20 percent year over year, which is inline with what is required to meet analyst expectations of 3.6 million Mac sales in the March quarter.
The growth is slightly below the 22 percent growth that was predicted but analyst Gene Munster did note that Apple had seen increased international growth of the Mac platform. Furthermore the now near inevitable launch of updated MacBook’s this week will likely give the Mac sales a boost for the final month in the March quarter.