A small Apple surprise

It’s been a while since I’ve operated this here blog, so let’s get back into the swing of things with a post that nearly writes itself.

Apple announced its quarterly sales today. You can get loads of charts on all the data from the usual sources. Revenue was up significantly, but I’ve always been more interested in unit sales because it’s the number of Macs and iOS devices out there that provide the market for third-party developers who make the software I need to use these machines.

Here are the unit sales for the three products Apple reports separately. As always, the dots show the actual quarterly sales and the line is the four-quarter moving average. Also, I plot real dates along the horizontal axis, not Apple’s goofy fiscal quarters.

Apple sales

This doesn’t show the old iPhone sales growth, but it’s steady. Certainly not the precipitous dropoff that was being predicted some weeks ago from “supply channel sources.”

Because the iPhone dominates unit sales, the chart above isn’t particularly good at showing what’s going on with the iPad and the Mac. Here’s the iPad by itself:

iPad sales

The iPad has managed to pull off an entire year of growth after bottoming out this time last year. As with the iPhone, it’s not stellar growth, but it’s welcome after the previous three years. It would be nice to see it always over the 10 million threshold again.

(You’ll note that since becoming an iPad user, I’ve stopped being snarky about its no-longer-world-beating figures and have started rooting for it. That’s what happens when you have a dog in the fight.)

Here’s the Mac:

Mac sales

Bleh. While iMacs seem to be in good shape, the MacBook line, which has usually driven sales, has little to recommend it. The MacBook Air has wheezy old specs that make many prospective buyers fear they’d be getting instant obsolescence. The MacBook Pro has a keyboard with serious reliability problems and a feature, the TouchBar, that neither Apple nor third-party developers have done much with. The unsuffixed MacBook is, I think, a nice machine, but I’m not sure many users are willing to pay a premium for an extra-light notebook (that’s somewhat underpowered) when they can get an iPad.

The real news of Apple’s growth is coming from services and the elusive “other” category of products, and that’s been the case for a while. These categories don’t have unit sales figures, so I’ve kept away from them. Maybe I should rethink that.