Apple’s Mac sales dip – even though it’s just released the best MacBook Pro ever

MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

Apple has set a new revenue record – thanks to bumper iPhone and Apple Watch sales, not to mention AirPods – but the company’s latest financial results (for fiscal Q1) weren’t all glory, with a slipup on the Mac front.

In the case of Apple’s computers, sales actually fell, dropping from $7.4 billion (around £5.7 billion, AU$11 billion) in the same quarter last year, to $7.2 billion (around £5.5 billion, AU$10.7 billion) now – remember we don’t know unit sales, as Apple only reveals revenue figures these days.

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No, that’s not a massive drop – it represents around a 3% dip – but it’s still telling that Apple went backwards with Mac revenue, in a quarter where it did so well generally speaking (buoyed, of course, by holiday sales).

And it might have you scratching your head even more, given that this was a quarter in which Apple released its finest MacBook Pro ever – at least according to our assessment – plus an accomplished and well-thought-out fresh take on the Mac Pro (although the latter is more of a niche, and hugely expensive, product).

Yet sales of the Mac have declined – so why might that be?

Difficult comparison

This is an issue Apple addresses in its earnings call (via The Motley Fool), with chief financial officer Luca Maestri explaining that the Mac had a “difficult year-over-year comparison” because of the launches of the MacBook Air and Mac mini in the December quarter a year ago. So in other words, considerable momentum and early sales from those launches were difficult to match this time around.

Of course, this still leaves a slight question mark over the new MacBook Pro 16-inch, and whether the machine isn’t making as much of an impact as we’d expect. Particularly given how good it is, and the glowing critical reception of the laptop in general, as mentioned.

The new super-sized MacBook Pro, which hit shelves in November 2019, doesn’t really put a foot wrong, quite frankly – although perhaps the fly in the ointment remains the price. Naturally, the MacBook Pro 16-inch is far from cheap, although it doesn’t up the ante with pricing compared to the 2019 models (at least at the entry-level).

Still, the clear differentiator between this new MacBook Pro, and the MacBook Air and Mac mini from a year ago, is where the starting price is pitched, so we can theorize that this is where the (relative) sales struggle might have been.

Either that, or the computing public simply hasn’t received the MacBook Pro 16-inch as well as the critics.

There’s only so much we can read into this, of course, and we can’t judge too much from a single quarter. It will definitely be interesting to see how Mac sales run in the next quarter, though – which should offer a more even playing field (and a full quarter run of sales for the MacBook Pro 16-inch).

Note that the iPad was the other disappointing area for Apple, with sales falling from $6.7 billion (around £5.1 million, AU$10 billion) to $6 billion (around £4.6 billion, AU$8.9 billion). Again, Maestri put that down to a difficult year-on-year sales comparison, given the launch of the iPad Pro in the December quarter a year ago.


Loknath Das