Apple’s iMac on the road to irrelevance; unit sales peaked a year ago

“Sales of Apple’s iMac, the computer often credited with saving the company, have peaked and by the end of 2014 will account for approximately 2% of the firm’s revenues, analysts now predict,” Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld.

“Apple’s return to computer industry significance is often traced to the original iMac, the first system introduced by then-interim CEO Steve Jobs after his return to the firm he had co-founded two decades earlier,” Keizer reports. “But even with that pedigree, the iMac has long been outpaced by Apple’s laptops. In the last four quarters, for example, Apple’s laptops outsold desktops by nearly three to one, with a similar revenue disparity.”

Keizer reports, “Clearly, the lack of available iMacs in the fourth quarter, traditionally the best for desktop sales, has eliminated the usual “pop” from the holidays and a recent refresh. And things are not going to get better. Brian White [Topeka Capital Markets analyst] estimates for 2013 peg desktop sales at under a million for two of the coming year’s four quarters, down 20% and 2% for the first and second quarters, respectively. For fiscal year 2013, which runs from Oct 1., 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013, White figures that Apple’s desktop sales will be 14% lower than in the previous year… Apple’s desktop line-up will essentially flatten at an average of under one million per quarter for the next two years.”

Apple's all-new iMac (8th gen)
Apple’s all-new iMac (8th gen)


Advertisement: Apple’s New iMac starts at $1,294 with Free Mac Products after rebate & FREE Shipping!

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hardly shocking, personal computing has been going portable/mobile for quite some time now. Still, with stellar reviews and stunning good looks, Apple’s all-new iMac has a chance to surprise analysts.

Related articles:
Fortune reviews Apple’s new iMac: ‘One of the best desktops the company has ever shipped’ – December 4, 2012
CNET reviews Apple’s new iMac: Serious, fast, an easy recommendation; Editors’ Choice – November 30, 2012
Apple announces new iMac available on Friday, November 30 – November 27, 2012
Apple’s new Fusion Drive technology also works on older Macs – October 31, 2012
Apple’s new patented Fusion Drive is more advanced than you might think – October 24, 2012
The Verge hands on Apple’s new iMac: Extremely thin, stunning – October 23, 2012
Apple unveils jaw-dropping all-new iMac – October 23, 2012


    1. Wait… A Mac mini, Apple TV, and AirPlay to a regular tv? Could that be a viable option? I use airplay with my MBP and iMac already. Don’t have a Mac mini so never thought of the possibility…

      1. Nice theory, but as things stand now, every family member wants a screen. A single TV screen is not going to cut it.
        Granted, not all screens need to be desktop computer screens, for there are also “tablets” — cough, pardon me, just clearing my throat — I mean iPads (what else).

        1. @what else: I neglected to mention McBook Airs.
          I used to take the train to work, spending my time usefully reading/writing/developing on the train. At work, I used my laptop for presentations. Some tasks on laptops can’t be displaced with iPads.

    2. I could swallow the concept of diminishing desktop sales, if there weren’t so many Wintels out there, just begging to be switched.

      Roughly 70% of total desktop sales are to to Windows consumers, Apple’s target market. Just a tiny bit of those switching to Mac will continue iMac growth, albeit maybe not as robustly as in the past.

      1. Good point. Those business desktop computers are not going away anytime soon. Lotta PCs to be replaced for sure. My big worry is the mac pro. There’s still a lot of us who make our living with those but in the scheme of things that is a very,very small number of sales for Apple.

      1. CORRECT! And the second scream is “Don’t announce new iMacs before they are ready to sell”.

        Odd to see Apple killing demand for its own product with supply/refresh mismanagement like this.

  1. MDN should note that there are several to die for desktop designs out there these days, and while mobile solutions suits the more advanced users, the majority of garden variety households still look to a desktop as their main stay tech tool.

    1. Mobile solutions suits more advanced users?

      What is “advanced user” about a portable?

      What a silly statement..Yes portables are more popular these days with the ambiguity of WIFI. It has nothing to do with Advanced/novice users.

      1. What is your IQ? Need me to draw you a picture? Figure it out. Matter factly, assuming you live on this earth, survey 20 homes in your neighbourhood and get back to me. Tablets and smartphone’s use is limited to the most basic features. Non advanced Folks still run to their trusted PC for word processing, music and picture editing and storage.

        1. Butthurt much? You don’t have a clue.

          You do not need a different computer skill set to operate a portable. Arguably you don’t even have to know how to turn it off, just close the lid.

          More and more “average” computer users are buying portables, this has everything to do with portability and NOTHING to do with their computer skill sets. People buy portables and still only use them for email and web.

          What is your IQ?

        2. “and while mobile solutions suits the more advanced users”

          “What is your IQ? Need me to draw you a picture? Figure it out.”

          In a word, BS.

          And my IQ may be as much as 50 points (or more) higher than yours. More advanced user may use laptops, iPads or iPhones for mobile usage, but the truly advanced users almost always come back to their desktops. They are rarely iMacs (at least in the community of users like me), but they are desktops (Mac Pros, UNIX, Linux and some Windows). Try running even moderately heavy IMSL (or even BMDP or SPSS, etc.) based simulations on those portable platforms.

      2. More advance users? The mobile sales are that- mobile users. For the individual that requires copious amounts of storage, Processing power, graphics acceleration, and screen(s) size-will still require desktops in some form.

    2. I have seen your so called ” to die for” designs out there. ALL of then desperately trying to look like iMacs and failing miserably.

      And yes, your statement regarding mobile computing and advanced users is silly. “Non Advanced folks”, as you put it, are always asking me if my iPad does everything a “computer” does. I know what they are saying….they are saying….can it do web browsing, email and type documents. When I explain it can do a lot more than that, they always say…..”we’ll I might as well replace my “computer then”,

  2. Hmmm…. 1 million per quarter? Yeah, market’s declining. Just close up that line.
    Are you kidding? That’s 4 million desktops per year! Most companies WISH they had that problem.

    1. Many “Apple supporters” here were bashing those who wanted an updated Mac Pro, saying it wasn’t worth Apple’s time and money anymore because it makes up so little of their revenues. I noted that even if they only sold 20,000 of their entry-level MacPros in a quarter, that’s still $50 million revenue.

      So, I can’t exactly summon my usual anger at analysts when they’re using the exact same logic as those “Apple supporters”.

    2. I concur, DaveD. Not so long ago, Apple was not selling a total of 1M computers per quarter. Portable computers have grown in popularity, but the desktop computer is still a staple of the Apple product line, and the iMac is the king of all-in-1 desktops. Why else would Apple put so much effort into re-engineering it for a holiday release?

      In addition, why scoff at the iMac’s 2% contribution to Apple’s revenues? 2% of Apple’s annual revenues is the equivalent of a substantial company all by itself. You just can’t satisfy some people…they have to find or manufacture some doom and gloom to try to bring everyone else down.

    1. I have an iPhone, used to have an iPad. I also have a 27 inch iMac and a MacBook Pro. I gave the iPad to my 10 year old niece, and have every thing on the iPhone shut down because of the crappy battery life. My iMac/MacBook Pro combo will stomp the hell out of any iPhone/iPad out there.

    1. The memory slots in the iMac (old and new) *are* user-accessible. You should at least have that straight by now, BLN.

      As far as HDD and SSD access go, I have to agree with you that Apple should enable easier user upgrades. I don’t know about the newer iMac models, but the HDD in the 2007 Intel aluminum iMac is user-accessible if you have some skill and confidence. Using directions that I found on-line, I replaced the 500GB HDD in my 2007 iMac with a 2GB HDD. I was even able to avoid removing the ribbon cable to the display by having another person hold the display for me while I reached behind to swap the HDD. But there is no reason that Apple could not design the iMac for better maintainability/upgradeability.

    2. People like BLN and KM like to play with their computers. Open them up, add and change stuff, etc.

      Great, but most users have no idea what is going on inside. If allowed to change parts you would end up with the PC world where not all parts work with each other or the latest OS.

      And there in lies the issue. Apple is selling an experience in use, not in playing with the parts. Its just the way Apple is going. I feel sorry for those who like to gut their machines and rebuild them,,,, for the fun of it. Just like the old Harley bikes, some people just loved to tear them apart to repair leaking seals, change parts, etc. But today, most people just like to ride them.

      A new world ??? Just a thought.

      1. Agree totally. Our company use Apple throughout with iMacs on every desk and MBP’s for the more mobile of us. We would never think to open one up, never had to increase the memory or HDD size.
        This is just one of the things that attracted us to Apple in the first place – you buy Macs and then just simply get on with using them.

        As you say, once you open up Macs to 3rd party hardware “upgrades’ you open up Pandoras box – welcome to the Windows incompatibility universe. No thanks – we’re too busy!

  3. Probably lower sales because many of us who wanted a new iMac were holding off because we knew upgrades were on the horizon. I’ve decided to wait until after April tax time. After taxes are squared away, then I will buy a new iMac. I think you’ll see an upswing of sales now that the new ones are out. But I agree, many that don’t really need a desktop are going the laptop route. As long as they buy Apple, doesn’t matter which product suits their needs best.

    But this article should have focused on comparing iMac desktop sales to PC desktop sales. Someone made that comment on the original article and it’s a good point.

  4. HAVE to buy that big ol’ iMac when it becomes available. Won’t I? Was almost ready to pull the trigger on the current gen model when the newer model was announced.
    Remind me … how long have the Windows desktop sales been dropping? It seems Apple’s share of that market has been growing so if Apple sales have been dropping, can theirs have been doing even that well?

  5. Keizer talks about the peak as iMac’s proportion of Apple’s profits as though that means anything. The iMac line still sells very well and is highly profitable, it’s just that some other Apple products sell better and make more profit for the company. Other desktop computer manufacturers are seeing falling sales and watching their profits vanish. Apple’s iMacs and laptops are increasing sales.

    Desktop computers are no longer occupy the centre ground of computing, just as iPods are no longer the prime music player for most people, but Apple still makes a significant profit from both iPods and iMacs. It’s just that it makes an even bigger profit from iPhones and iPads.

    Why should anyone be worried that a profitable sector is still making a great profit ? Meanwhile an emerging sector that Apple dominates is making even more money than desktop computers ever did for any company.

  6. My iMac is the center of my digital hub- it is the most indispensable product I own. My iPhone has become a necessity, and I’m about to buy my first iPad, but no way ever will I see an iMac as outdated technology. I need the screen- size, and I need the truck.

  7. The only thing irrelevant is this story. Find another desktop computer with the same look and power? The only other one you will find is the 27″ iMac coming in January. Nothing even comes close. All the copycats pale in comparison. All the reviews tell the same story. I think Apple might surprise with sales numbers as production picks up.

    1. I tend to not agree….. The thin to large design has been around for decades with Bangs & Olufsen leading the way. There are some really hot looking 27″ PC’s out there and sure poopoohing on Windows 8 is fun but the touch experience will gain popularity in 2013.

      P.S. you can’t see the back or sides of most desktops. 🙂 including my 27″ TBD is great and you can’t see the sides or back.

        1. Exactly… and it’s not just “gorilla arms”. Some think that orienting a monitor at an angle or horizontally, rather than the typical vertical orientation, will alleviate the problem. It won’t. Regardless of how one orients a screen, the impact on shoulders and necks will still be dramatic.

          There have been several desktop Windows PCs released the past few years and they’ve gone nowhere.

          Simple ergonomics is going to keep touch from ever being the fundamental UI for desktops. I’m sure there will be some elements of touch added to OS X over time to “assist” certain activities. Touch will become a fundamental UI when voice does. Think the computer interface of Star Trek.

          Until then…

    1. Shhh — not too loud. There are some people on this site that are totally infatuated with the current Apple leadership. Cook can do no wrong. All the delays in getting the iMac to market, missing holiday season, that was all just part of his “operational genius”.

      as for the article: ridiculous. The iMac is profitable and class-leading. A significant number of people still want to host their own data on their own system, instead of tying their mobile devices into somebody elses’ “clouds”. Those are smart people, and Apple is wise to respond to their needs.

      1. Shhh – not too loud. There is a post over at MacRumors stating that early orders of 27″ iMacs are beginning to ship and be on hand before, “GASP”, Christmas!…. Aahhhh, the Humanity, the Humanity…

        1. @ NowNow:

          Or instead of reading rumours, you could just go straight to the source. The Apple Store declares the 27″ iMac will be “available to ship” in january. it is only the 21.5″ design that will ship in the next 7-10 days according to Apple.

          Are you insinuating that Apple was always planning to offer the more capable iMac immediately AFTER the holiday season?

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