Why did IDC lowball Apple’s Mac sales by 9.7% last quarter?

Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune:

For the record:

• IDC estimated two weeks ago that Apple shipped 4.982 million Macs in calendar Q3
• Apple announced Monday that it actually sold 5.52 million Macs in that period

“In percentage terms, IDC said Mac sales would grow 8.9% year over year in an industry that was shrinking by -1.7%,” P.E.D. reports. “As it turned out, Mac sales grew 18%.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s interesting how these “research” outfits never seem to err by overestimating when it comes to Apple Macintosh; they only seem to undercount.

We briefly mentioned this IDC discrepancy during our live Q414 Apple conference call notes on Monday: “Apple Unit Sales Q414: Mac: 5.520 million (vs. 4.413 million YOY, +21% YOY)… By the way: IDC estimated Mac shipments at only 4.982 million units for the quarter.”

As we wrote back in July:

The bottom line goal of unit share manipulators: Make the average Joe think he’s buying a “winning” product by making Apple products look like they’re “losing.” If the unit share numbers don’t look good for their clients and/or bad for Apple, they’ll concoct other ways to count them until they do.

One thing these shady data massagers can’t hide under tons of questionable data: Apple’s immense profits. That’s why they don’t release monthly press releases on profit share. If they did, they’d be out of business. Profit share, the actual measure of success in a market, is to be ignored at all costs by those in the business of “influencing consumer behavior and buying preferences.”

Further, as we wrote back in October 2013:

The well-heeled customer chooses Apple… These are the desirable customers. These are the customers that pay for substantive R&D. These are the customers that matter. This is why they get the world’s first and only 64-bit smartphone. This is, in fact, why they get the world’s modern smartphone in 2007, years before anyone else gets a serviceable knockoff.

These are the customers that pay for not only the best devices, but also for the best apps and services. This is why market share doesn’t matter for Apple and why Apple doesn’t really care about general market (unit) share. This is why the Mac lived while all the others’ PC businesses slowly died during Microsoft’s dreadful Dark Age of Personal Computing. This is why the Mac continues to thrive today. All of the smart and rich people have Macs. Intelligent developers understand this.

In each market in which it competes, Apple owns the only part of market that matters: Consumers with taste, the ability to discern value, and who possess disposable income and the will to spend it. Google, Samsung et al. can have all of the leftovers. They’re more trouble than they’re worth, which isn’t much, not even en masse.

If you have a billion users who settled for your product because it was part of a Buy One Get One freebie, how much content (music, movies, apps, books, etc.) are they going to buy and to how many paid services are they going to subscribe and how much are they worth to advertisers? Pretty much bupkis on all three counts.

We’d rather have the 400+ million (and rapidly growing) customers with the taste, the intelligence to recognize incredible value, and the money and the will to spend it. Wouldn’t you?

As long as you corner the market on the best customers, and there are enough of them to support a healthy business (very healthy in Apple’s case), market share doesn’t matter.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
IDC again undercounts Mac unit sales – October 9, 2014
IDC and Gartner numbers do not jibe with Apple’s double digit U.S. Mac growth – July 27, 2014
Exposing IDC’s, Gartner’s, and Strategy Analytics’ PC, phone and tablet data on Apple – November 16, 2013\
Smashing Apple: Is Strategy Analytics in Samsung’s pocket? – August 3, 2013
Strategy Analytics claims Android now dominates tablet market – July 31, 2013
Gartner and IDC trumpet wildly incongruous Mac unit sales estimates – April 11, 2013
Canalys unafraid to count iPad, puts Apple third in worldwide PC market share – January 26, 2011


  1. There are so many suckers that buy into that Manipulators, Manipulators Manipulators that the citizens of the country of origin can be fooled to believe that another country has weapons of mass destruction and that torture is OK.

    Guess you only have to fool some of the people all of the time to build a bully country.

      1. I actually believe that the USA has a hard on problem for the civilized world.

        I’m certainly not blind to the rest of the world’s manipulators, especially those that have weapons of mass destructions and use them, those that torture people and those that invade sovereign nations based on fantasies.

        The United Hates certainly does not have a monopoly on fools, they have allies you know.

        1. United HATES?

          You need a serious shrink to help you and your juvenile put downs of the U.S.

          Not knowing you have a hard on problem denies you the first step on the ROAD TO RECOVERY.

          HATE for the U.S. must be a terrible thing to live with day after day. Hope you recover, soon.

          1. “United HATES?”–> I call them like I see them.

            “You need a serious shrink to help you and your juvenile put downs of the U.S.”—> If that is the case then you should be able to tell me what’s your prognosis on the government and the citizens of the country in this day an age that goes around committing crimes against humanity, invents fantasies about who has weapons on mass destruction, engages in torture of human beings, includes massive spying, industrial espionage and sabotage on others.

            Or is your area of expertise limited to those who use juvenile put downs?

            I’d say that the later is a much more serious situation than someone who appears to engage simply in juvenile put downs. You toss the mud all right, but your “aim for Bin Laden hit Saddam Hussein” guidance system misses every time. There is a road to recovery here. Recognize it, then act upon it. I hear “we tortured some folks” and those responsible are going away scot free, and this coming from a land that purportedly beats its chest about justice. What a travesty the country has become. Like I said, I call ’em like I see them. A person, country, organization that engages in that sort of behavior is held in very low esteem.

            Hate for the world must be a terrible thing to live with day after day. I hope you recover soon, the world has no need for another global bully.

            Try some love, love the planet.

            1. Mmmmm now you are talking, peaceful lovable pussy. Some people around here should try it sometime, might help tone down the war mongering.

    1. Does IDC not have an annual general meeting or somthing where someone can ask why they keep getting this wrong, the machinations involved and if they have a plan to do their job properly. If not why do they feel such inaccuracies are vital to their business plan. Do these companies never have to answer for their lies?

  2. For ages, IDC have consistently arranged things to as to minimise Apple’s numbers. They have also been seen to retrospectively alter their figures so that the next quarter’s figures don’t show a high percentage gain as a result of the artificially low previous figure from the previous quarter.

  3. IDC have always got it wrong when it comes to Apple. Even comparing their numbers to the other major manipulator Gartner’s always has IDC showing Apple as under performing in some way.

    And then Apple release their numbers, showing up IDC’s guess as exactly that, just a guess. And not a particularly good one. Why do people pay this organisation for research when they obviously only pretend to know what they are doing?

  4. I don’t think these estimates are actually relevant to long term AAPL stock holders.

    Even if analysts underestimate, doesn’t the stock value then go up once Apple surpasses the estimates?

    And even if they overestimate, don’t doesn’t the stock value go up initially, then backs down when Apple doesn’t meet expectations?

    It seems to me like only day traders should care how accurate the estimates are because Apple’s actual earnings are all that matters in the end. Any changes to the stock caused by inaccurate estimates gets corrected every quarter when actual earnings are announced.

    1. What you’re saying makes sense but some companies are always being pushed unfairly to mostly keep their share price higher than it should be over the short-term and that makes other stocks look less attractive in comparison. It’s like Google always being touted as some invulnerable stock that turns water into money and can’t ever miss. They’re bound to get more investors with that always being said by the media and Wall Street.

      With Apple always being pushed down as a doomed company, it’s going to keep its value lower because investors thinks it’s too much of a risk. There are too many investors who don’t do enough research and invest by word of mouth. I don’t think even multiple quarters help that much or Apple wouldn’t be considered a doomed company over such a long time. I believe investors always think Apple is a doomed company no matter how much money Apple makes. It’s stuck in their heads. Honestly, how can Apple have a lower P/E than Microsoft if this weren’t true.

  5. Typical anti-Apple crap. If it were some company like Google or Amazon they’d be biasing their numbers to make the company look like it was doing better, not worse. I wouldn’t want them to pad Apple’s numbers at all. My question is whether these reports from the IDC have any real use at all for anyone. A company sells what a company sells and people will find out soon enough when quarterly results are announced. There’s no need for a third-party to add any more confusion into the mix.

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