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Macs picking up slack for slowing iPod sales

Macs were the undeniable growth driver for Apple Inc.'s national retail chain last quarter, far outpacing sales of iPods which remained relatively flat from the year-ago quarter.

For the three-month period ending June, Apple's U.S. retail stores combined for an average 36 percent growth in Mac unit sales compared to just a 2 percent overall increase in sales of iPods. When sales totals from international Apple stores are factored into the mix, growth percentages are likely to change.

Of the approximate 140 stores that have been operating in the States for at least one year, over 50 witnessed a more than 50 percent increase in sales of Macs from the year-ago quarter, people familiar with the matter have told AppleInsider. That included 3 locations that actually saw a more than 100 percent increase in the number of Macs sold.

By contrast, just 3 of the 140 stores managed to grow their iPod sales by more than 50 percent. Nearly 50 Apple retail locations actually saw a 5 - 15 percent decline in sales of the digital media players from the same quarter last year.

From a revenue perspective, third quarter iPod sales could fall below last year's mark should sales of the $79 second-generation iPod shuffle account for a significant portion of the unit mix. Although Apple offered a first-generation shuffle during the year-ago quarter, it was far less compelling than the model currently offered today.

The Cupertino-based company is expected to provide more color on both Mac and iPod sales during its fiscal third quarter conference call, set to take placed this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. PDT/5:00 p.m. EDT. It will also announce first weekend iPhone sales.