Apple’s Share of Notebook Market Took a Hit Last Quarter Due to Lack of New MacBook and MacBook Pro

Apple recently reported sales of 3.72 million Macs in the third quarter, its fewest in any quarter since 2010. It was also the first time Apple sold fewer than four million Macs in any quarter since 2013.


For that reason, it should come as no surprise that Apple's share of the worldwide notebook market took a hit last quarter.

Taiwanese research firm TrendForce estimates that Apple accounted for 6.5 percent of notebook shipments worldwide in the third quarter, a considerable decline over its estimated 10 percent market share in the year-ago quarter.

The decline resulted in Apple dropping below Acer and ranking sixth among notebook vendors, in terms of global shipments, in the third quarter. The top five spots were held by HP at 26.2 percent, Lenovo at 20 percent, Dell at 19.6 percent, Acer at 8 percent, and ASUS at 7.4 percent, according to TrendForce.

It's important to note that Apple doesn't break down its Mac sales on a model-by-model basis in its earnings reports, so TrendForce's data is estimated, likely based in part on the average selling price of a Mac.


There's a pretty simple explanation for the decline in sales last quarter: nearly every product in the Mac lineup was outdated.

Both the 12-inch MacBook and iMac lines haven't been refreshed since June 2017, while the MacBook Air hasn't received any substantial updates since 2015. Likewise, the latest Mac mini is from October 2014, and the Mac Pro hasn't been updated since December 2013, but an all-new version is coming in 2019.

It certainly didn't help that Apple refreshed the MacBook Pro in mid July, nearly two weeks after the quarter ended. Apple's financial chief Luca Maestri highlighted this "difficult launch comparison" in the company's earnings call:
Our year-over-year sales performance was impacted by the different timing of the MacBook Pro launch…
Mac sales should rebound in the near future, however, as TrendForce expects Apple to release a new MacBook Air at the end of the third quarter, while respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects the 12-inch MacBook, iMac, and Mac mini lines to be updated later this year—likely by the end of October.


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Apple Expected to Release New MacBook Air at End of Third Quarter: September or October

Apple will release a new MacBook Air at the end of the third quarter, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. That lines up with either September or October, depending on how the wording is interpreted.


TrendForce also refers to a new MacBook Pro in future tense, but it is surely referring to the models released in July, when the third quarter began:
The second quarter was the transition period when Apple was preparing for the releases of the upcoming new MacBook devices for the year. TrendForce therefore expects MacBook shipments to again post a large QoQ increase in 3Q18, as Apple will be releasing a new MacBook Pro at the start of the quarter and a new MacBook Air at the end of the quarter.
The report does not provide additional details, but both Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg News reporter Mark Gurman expect Apple to release a new entry-level notebook later this year, and they are two of the more reliable sources as it relates to Apple's upcoming product plans.

TrendForce specifically says it will be a new MacBook Air, but Kuo and Gurman have not identified what branding the notebook will have.

Earlier this year, DigiTimes claimed that Apple will release the first MacBook Air with a Retina display in the second half of 2018, and noted that it will be a 13-inch model in a separate report. This week, it said Quanta will assemble new "inexpensive notebooks" from Apple in the fourth quarter.

Whether it turns out to be a MacBook, MacBook Air, or something else, Gurman expects at least one of the entry-level notebooks, if there are more than one, to have a starting price of $999 or less in the United States.

The current MacBook Air hasn't seen any substantial updates in over three years. Since that time, Apple has discontinued the 11-inch model, while the processor on the base 13-inch model received a minor bump in clock speed, but it's still a Broadwell chip from the 2014–2015 timeframe.

Apple could announce availability of a new MacBook Air via press release at any point this fall, or save it for a September or October event. At this point, we lean towards an October release, as the September event should be busy, with a trio of new iPhones, Apple Watch Series 4 models, new AirPods, and more.

With refreshes to other Macs expected later this year, including the iMac and Mac mini, and a widely expected iPad Pro with Face ID, Apple may have enough in its pipeline for an October event, which it last held in 2016.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air

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Upcoming 6.1-inch LCD iPhone and 6.5-inch OLED iPhone Could Start at $699 and $999 Respectively, Say Analysts

Apple may introduce its upcoming 6.1-inch LCD iPhone with a starting price of around $699 to $749, according to industry analysis by TrendForce. The pricing strategy is said to be partly a response to lower than expected iPhone sales last year, and partly a result of competition from Chinese brands that have expanded their market shares with devices that offer high performance at affordable prices.

Three new iPhone models are expected to form Apple's 2018 lineup: two OLED models measuring in at 5.8 and 6.5 inches, and a 6.1-inch lower-cost LCD model. All three models will feature Face ID in lieu of a Home button, but TrendForce predicts the "budget" LCD device will be Apple's main device in terms of production share.

Image via TrendForce
The specs upgrades would make new iPhones more favorable in the competition with Android phones. On the other hand, the cost of this model has been approaching that of iPhone 8 Plus due to the upgrades. However, the 6.1-inch LCD model would be positioned by Apple's main product this year, with a production share of around 50% in the new iPhone series. Apple is bound to adjust the prices of this model to meet the market expectation and to further expand its market share. Considering the cost reduction of components, TrendForce estimates the starting price of this LCD version at around $699-749.
As for the new OLED models, TrendForce expects the 5.8-inch device will have a lower starting price of $899 to $949, while the current-generation iPhone X, which starts at $999, will enter its "end of life" process due to the similarity in the specs of the two models. Meanwhile, the upcoming 6.5-inch device will target the "premium business segment" with a starting price of $999.

According to TrendForce, Apple is bargaining with its supply chain partners to reduce the cost of components, especially those which have been used in earlier generations of iPhone. That view tallies with earlier reports claiming Apple wants Samsung to reduce the price of its OLED display panels so it can cut the cost of current and future iPhone X models.

Price cuts to the display and other components would help Apple lower its bill of materials for the new models, with the savings potentially passed on to customers. For example, in line with TrendForce's prediction, RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani believes the second-generation iPhone X will start at $899, down from $999.

TrendForce expects the production volume of the three new iPhones to be around 83-88 million units, potentially taking a larger share of the company's annual sales volume compared with the three models it released last year. Sales volume of iPhones in 2018 meanwhile is expected to remain flat or grow marginally by 2 to 3 percent, owing to the saturated smartphone market and the longer replacement cycle of phones globally.

TrendForce believes the two OLED models have been assembled by manufacturers since late July, while the assembly of the LCD models is scheduled for mid-September. Apple is expected to announce the trio of new iPhones sometime in September or October.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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MacBook Lineup Represented Estimated 1 in 10 Notebooks Shipped Worldwide Last Year

Apple's lineup of MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models accounted for roughly one in ten notebooks shipped worldwide last year, according to data published today by research firm TrendForce.


TrendForce claims that Apple surpassed ASUS to become the world's fourth largest notebook vendor, with an estimated 9.6 percent market share in 2017, up from 8.3 percent in 2016. ASUS saw its market share drop to an estimated 9.5 percent last year, down from a reported 10.3 percent in 2016.

The research firm says Apple releasing updated MacBook Pro models in June 2017 helped the company expand its shipments by 18 percent for the whole year—supposedly the highest growth rate among all notebook brands.

TrendForce estimates notebook shipments from all brands totaled 164.7 million units worldwide, a year-on-year increase of 2.1 percent. Windows PC makers HP, Lenovo, and Dell led the industry with estimated 24.3 percent, 20.2 percent, and 15.2 percent market shares respectively in 2017.


It's important to note that Apple doesn't break down its Mac sales on a model-by-model basis in its earnings reports, so TrendForce's data is estimated, likely based in part on the average selling price of a Mac.

Another caveat is that PC makers like HP, Lenovo, and Dell sell a wide variety of notebooks at all different price points, while Apple primarily targets the high-end market, with its cheapest notebook being the outdated MacBook Air for $999 and up. Apple's profit margins are also significantly higher.

Apple routinely flip-flops between fourth and fifth place in the notebook market, so these results aren't overly surprising. The company is expected to remain the world's fourth most popular notebook vendor in 2018.

What's next for Apple's notebook lineup? We haven't heard much yet, but a recent report claimed that at least three new Mac models integrated with custom co-processors, including updated notebooks and a new desktop, are planned for release later this year. MacBook refreshes often occur between March and June.

Apple's desktop lineup has actually received more attention than MacBooks recently. In addition to the all-new iMac Pro, Apple continues to work on a Mac Pro with an upgradeable design. The portable Mac mini has also gone well over three years without an update, and could certainly use a refresh.

For a history of release dates and the latest rumors about the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, be sure to visit our Mac Buyer's Guide.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook

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Strong Demand for MacBook Pro Increases Apple’s Notebook Market Share in Last Quarter

Apple continued to see strong worldwide sales across its MacBook line-up in the third quarter of 2017, according to new market research conducted by TrendForce. Apple's laptop sales once again exceeded ASUS to rank fourth in global notebook shipments, which overall saw a "remarkable" quarterly increase of 6.8 percent and a year-on-year increase of 0.9 percent, reaching 42.69 million units.

Apple continued the strong shipments of 12-inch products in the second quarter, and focused on the new models of MacBook Pro in the third quarter, recording the third quarter shipments of 4.43 million units and an increase of 11.3%. It exceeded ASUS to rank the fourth in this third quarter.
HP recorded a new high in its quarterly shipments, which increased by 17.6 percent, reaching a single-season shipment of 11 million units for the first time. HP is expected to achieve the annual goal of 40 million units, which will secure its first place in 2017 global notebook shipments ranking.

Lenovo recovered somewhat from a poor first half of the year, recording 8.58 million units for third quarter shipments and a 6.5 percent quarterly growth. In the fourth quarter, it is estimated to have another 1 to 3 percent growth.

Dell shipped 665 million units in the third quarter with a quarter-on-quarter increase of 1.4 percent, maintaining its third place in the rankings. ASUS and Acer ranked fifth and sixth, shipping 3.82 million and 3.31 million units respectively.


During a recent earnings call, CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple's Mac division set a new all-time revenue record of $25.8 billion for fiscal 2017. Apple sold 5.4 million Macs during the September quarter, up 10 percent over last year, and gained significant market share as the global market contracted by one percent, according to IDC's latest estimate. The performance was reportedly fueled by big demand for the MacBook Pro, said Cook, and Mac revenue grew 25 percent to a new September quarter record.

"We had outstanding results all around the world in each of our geographic segments, growing Mac revenue by 20 percent or more," said Cook. "We were also very happy with the success of Mac in the education market, where customer purchases grew double digits year over year."

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Neutral)

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iPhone X Should Push Apple Ahead of Samsung as World’s Largest Smartphone Maker

Apple will dethrone Samsung as the world's largest smartphone maker in the fourth quarter of 2017, on the strength of strong iPhone X demand, according to Taiwanese market research firm TrendForce.


TrendForce estimates Apple will record 19.1 percent market share in the quarter, encompassing the busy holiday shopping season, which would be slightly ahead of Samsung's estimated 18.2 percent market share. Chinese vendors Huawei, OPPO, and Xiaomi are expected to round off the top five.


The feat would be impressive as always given that Samsung sells over a dozen different smartphone models, including some as cheap as $200, whereas Apple primarily caters to the high-end market beyond the iPhone SE for $349.
Samsung is expected to slightly scale back the production of its high-end models in the fourth quarter as the brand is seeing the sales of its smartphones being squeezed by the strong demand for Apple's latest iPhone devices. TrendForce estimates that Samsung's fourth-quarter total volume will come to 77 million units, a 5% drop from the third quarter.
The fourth quarter has always been the strongest for Apple, given it launches new devices in the fall, allowing it to surpass Samsung in the year-ago quarter as well. Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ were released back in April, so sales momentum is likely beginning to decline for those devices.

Meanwhile, market research firm Canalys estimates the iPhone 8 Plus outpaced the iPhone 8 last quarter with shipments of 6.3 million units and 5.4 million units respectively. Canalys said the iPhone 8 Plus is the first Plus-sized iPhone to out-ship its smaller 4.7-inch sibling in a single quarter.

Apple doesn't disclose iPhone sales on a model-by-model basis, but chief Tim Cook said the iPhone 8 Plus has "gotten off to the fastest start of any Plus model," which came as "a bit of a surprise" to the company.

As far as iPhone X sales are concerned, Apple's guidance of $84-$87 billion revenue for the holiday quarter suggests that demand for the device will be significant. Apple should easily beat its all-time record for revenue in a single quarter of $78.4 billion, achieved in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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