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Mac revenue exceeds iPad revenue for the first time since 2011

Despite a contracting worldwide PC market, Apple managed to buck the trend — once again — by selling more Macs than it ever has during its second quarter: More than 4.5 million Macs in total. What's more, Macs beat iPads in terms of revenue. What's going on?

Apple offered its second quarter 2015 earnings numbers on Monday, reporting $58 billion in revenue for the period and a quarterly net profit of $13.6 billion. About $5.6 billion of that revenue alone came from Mac sales.

It's an interesting turnabout: The iPad, whose sales have been flagging for a while now, generated only about $5.4 billion in revenue. That's the first time the Mac has outsold the iPad since about 2011.

Even in China, though, people are staying away from PCs in droves.

Mac sales in China have been off the charts. Tim Cook characterized Chinese Mac sales as "unbelievable" during a Q&A with analysts on Monday afternoon — up 31 percent year over year. Sales of all Apple products and software is exploding in China, however. Cook thinks this has everything to do with China's burgeoning middle class and their growing attraction for premium brands like Apple.

Even in China, though, people are staying away from PCs in droves. Market research firm IDC reports that PC sales in China are expected to shrink 5 percent this year (compared to 7 percent worldwide), so Apple's bucking the trend both there and in other regions.

A lot of it has to do with the "halo effect." People buy Apple products like the iPhone and like them. And people are buying tens of millions of iPhones each quarter. That, in turn, helps those same customers view the company's other offerings more favorably. When they're in the market for a tablet or a computer, they check out Apple.

Suddenly someone who, a year ago, might not have spent $1,000 on a laptop computer is more inclined to do it. That's reinforced when they learn of some of the benefits of Mac ownership: Less opportunities for malware infections, for example, no pre-installed bloatware or adware. Better integration of operating system, application software and hardware, all from the same company. An easy way to buy software for the Mac, connected to the same credentials they're already familiar with from the iOS App Store. Seamless integration with other Apple products.

Apple sold a lot of Macs without flooding the retail channel with inventory.

Apple says that the quarterly Mac sales were buoyed by strong response to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Both those products were refreshed in March and began shipping immediately, so Apple had at about three weeks of sales to work with to help pad their Mac sales numbers a bit.

It's worth noting that Apple sold a lot of Macs without flooding the retail channel with inventory. Apple CFO Luca Maestri reported that Apple exited the March quarter with about 4-5 weeks' worth of Mac inventory, close to where it started.

That's important: That phenomenon has occurred with the iPad, and the results haven't been good for Apple. Such an artificial buoying of channel inventory might have given Apple the appearance of inflated Mac sales, but it would have hit Apple in the next quarter like a bad hangover.

It's also important to note that the new MacBook didn't ship during the recently-reported quarter. The dazzling, slim MacBook didn't start shipping until April, in fact. Even now, supply on the new computer is very constrained. The new MacBook incorporates some hardware innovations that make it a bit more difficult for Apple's manufacturing partners to produce in the same volume as its other, more tested and refined designs. Mac customers interested in getting the new MacBook have been asked to order it online and have it shipped to them, instead of walking into a store and buying one off the shelf, as they can with every other Mac model.

Cook said Apple's "very happy with the response we're getting from customers" who have the new MacBook. "We believe — and I think most everyone agrees — this is the future of the notebook," he added.

Obviously the new MacBook isn't for everyone — some customers are put-off by the comparatively lightweight processor and graphics, for example, compared to the beefier Retina MacBook Pro. But Apple's appealing to an entirely different audience with the MacBook, and it remains to be seen how widespread or how long-term its popularity will be.

Apple has previously suggested that supply issues for the new MacBook are temporary, and should be corrected by June. Not coincidentally, I'm sure, that's the end of the current quarter. So hopefully by the time the next quarterly report is issued — mid-July — we'll have a better idea of how Apple's newest Mac laptop is helping the company's bottom line.

27 Comments
  • I have an iPad Air, but since I bought my iPhone 6 Plus and my Retina Macbook Pro, I never used it so I gave it to my mom who doesn't have a laptop.
  • Mac > iPad
  • Oh well. Think of it this way:
    What we say: "Post-PC era."
    What we mean: "Post-Microsoft era."
  • Well, It *could* have been the Post PC era, if Apple didn't just basically stop doing any development on iOS devices. That is beyond making them a little faster, a little thinner, and a little better screen each and every year. Apple gets credit for being so innovative, but what have they done since the introduction of the first basic iOS product. Nothing, that's what.
  • You are either stupid drunk or you're being wilfully obtuse. There is so much wrong in your statement that I don't even know where to begin putting it right. I either case it's not worth my effort.
  • Maybe he's still mad at Apple for killing off the Jobs/Forstall era skeuomorphic designs.
  • Oh, those glory days of lovely iCal leather-stitching.
  • iPad sales are lower than expected because iPads retain their usefulness far longer than iPhones. My iPad 2 is still going strong. It's a little slow, but it's not "I want to spend $700 to fix it" slow. But you have a point in that there needs to be an innovation in the iPad space that grabs the consumer. We aren't all video editors and musicians. And if the old iPad plays games and watches movies just fine, where's the incentive to upgrade?
  • I think the thing that still kinda bugs me about these articles, is that.. it seems every quarter, places like to declare the iPad as Dead, and nobody is buying them. Apple is still selling a ton of them. Just not as many as last time. That said, I am still on my iPad Air. Have been considering an Air 2, for no other reason than the more storage. My Air is a 16 GB model, and I could go for a 64 Gig. Other than that, I've no performance issues, or anything like that.
  • You should have no problem with your iPad Air, it just came out! Hear you on the storage though
  • I think that the tablet is slowing down because Apple and Google are shooting themselves in the foot with advertising. When Apple first introduced the iPad, it was a leisure device. Steve Jobs was on a couch when he introduced it. But with the new ads, it's all people doing important things in incredible locations. It's making people forget what tablets are really about. Meanwhile, Google killed off the Nexus 7 and introduced the Nexus 9 with premium pricing. The iPad Air 2 is one of the best tablets on the market, but Apple is making people forget why they love iPad. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Wow, way to spin. Yearly school budget purchases were in this quarter, bumping up Mac sales, and the real story about how consumer spending in iPads has dropped is glossed over. It will be interesting next quarter to see how the iWatch phone accessory numbers are spun, once everyone realizes that once the preorders are filled for the most devoted that the rest of the public thinks it's a joke and the thing stalls like an antique car.
  • Around here, computer purchases happen in the spring/early summer quarter, not winter. So you can't definitively claim that's the reason. Why do you believe the public thinks the Apple Watch is a joke? Are you basing that on evidence, or you just don't like it personally? FYI, I don't particularly want one either, but I can't say it's a joke because of that.
  • We are now in the post-iPad era.
  • Not surprising. Tablets are on the decline, and with apple and others not putting more focus on tablets, I do not see that trend reversing anytime soon.
  • I'm wondering if maybe more people are buying phablets and light-weight computers more now, and that leaves the tablets as an unneeded device caught in the middle.
    The iPhone 6 and 6+ candy do most everything people need their iPad to do, but the iPhone's are always with them. Get a 13" rMBP, a MacBook Air, or a new MacBook, which have more capability than an iPad and come with a built in keyboard. Now these customers have all their bases covered with only two devices, and both are very portable.
  • The issue is that people with iPad 2 and iPad 3s are not wanting to buy a new iPad because they aren't subsidized by a carrier, and now those old iPads are really starting to become sluggish. I couldn't stand my iPad 3 anymore so now I have an iPad Air 2 and absolutely love it. I still have an iPhone 4S and skipped 2 upgrade cycles with that, so most of my portable usage goes on the iPad Air 2.
  • I think it's the opposite. My iPad 2 is certainly sluggish, but it gets the job done around here. I almost bought an iPad Air 2, but in the end I decided that it just wasn't worth the $700. I'll wait for a bigger leap forward in performance, and hopefully new capability.
  • Other than when using the iWork Suite for iOS, the iPad 3 gets the job done rather quickly with iOS 8.3. In apps where the device works very well (Ulysses, for example), I have no complaints except that sometimes the half-seconds lost waiting (in iThoughts for example) can really add up. The singlemost RAM hogger app for iPad 3 is unquestionably Pixelmator. However, let's not wait to harvest mangos from an orange tree, OK?
  • Can't really have a Post-PC era when we still need a PC with iTunes each time an OTA update bricks our iOS device, can we?
  • Yep - I really wish there was Time Machine for iPad. Connect an external drive, have the iPad/iPhone back up to it. Have rescue firmware in the iOS device to restore from backup. Let me selectively restore app data too.
  • I like and have specific uses for all my devices (iPhone, iPad, MBA). I still think the iPad has a place. My 6 plus can't beat my iPad for watching movies and TV shows or reading magazines. Sent from the iMore App
  • The way it looks now, I would be perfectly happy with my Apple Watch, iPad Air and iMac. My MBP is such a fall between device it's been on the bookshelf for most of the last 3 years., the same with the iPhone. Unless I go out it is just plugged into power in the bedroom. If I have time I will go and get a new iMac this week.
  • Yes, it just depends on your mobile computing needs. If you need a bit more power and multi-tasking ability in your workflow, you'll sacrifice a bit of portability and mobile ease of use and get a Macbook. If you mostly do single app at a time and don't need power-user type stuff, an iPad is excellent. Both fit between the desktop and phone. But, this kind of makes sense as the gap has closed between tablet and laptops in many ways. The battery life was huge for me initially, but now both are similar. Size and weight have grown closer as well. Now, it's just more a usability difference. For example, when I go to a lunch meeting where I'm maybe just going to take a few notes, and iPad is much less socially intrusive. But, if I'm on the road and will need to work on a customer's website, then I'm probably going to prefer a laptop. Back when I was mostly writing, the iPad was perfect. It just depends.
  • Makes since to me. My iPad 4 is still going strong and I can't come up with a reason (so far) to upgrade.
  • I think with more product lines, we're all trying to define what the "right" combination of devices is. Apple is trying to provide a variety of combinations that work well together. For me, an iMac (truck), iPad (casual), and iPhone (mobile) is the ideal combination, but that doesn't make it true for everyone. Others may need the capabilities of a Mac in a mobile form factor, or find themselves doing iPad tasks on their iPhone. So be it. As soon as we stop trying to define what is the "right" way, we can all just enjoy the Apple products we choose and the joy they bring to our lives.
  • We are totally an Apple Family... my wife and I both have iPhones 5s, we both have an iPad mini with retina display that we only use for sitting in front of the tv or in our comfy chair looking at mail, face book, etc... and at work I have a Mac Pro tablet with retina display and an iPad 2..... I don't see where I will be buying a Mac desktop because I think I am totally covered with all our products.....