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Tuesday, December 11, 2007, 03:10 pm PT (06:10 pm ET)

Apple's Leopard to boost Mac sales while Dell, HP slump: report

Mac OS X Leopard will drive Apple computer sales to record levels in the next few months while both Dell and HP are mired in sinking or largely stagnant demand, according to a new report from ChangeWave Research.

Of those poll respondents shopping for a desktop or notebook computer within the three months following November, a record 29 percent of each group plans to buy a Mac — a slight increase from 28 percent in August for the already strong-selling MacBook range but a major spike from the 23 percent set by desktops in the same late summer period.

At 24 percent, nearly one quarter of those who answered the research firm specifically said they would be more likely to buy a Mac due to the release of Mac OS X Leopard in October.

Apple is also likely to crack the historically resistant corporate market, ChangeWave says. Sales of both Mac desktops and notebooks to business customers have remained virtually flat for a full year, but are now set to climb a percentage point each to 6 and 7 percent respectively. The combination should put Apple ahead of the curve, according to the poll.

"Over the next 90 days, Mac laptop and desktop sales to consumers will remain the biggest growth story in the PC industry," ChangeWave explains.

Mac consumer demand


Mac corporate demand


The analyst firm notes that Apple is more likely to retain these buyers, with a full 80 percent of existing Mac owners saying they are "very satisfied" with their systems compared to 61 percent for its next-best competitor, Dell. About 18 percent of Mac users are at least somewhat satisfied.

Major Windows PC makers are losing favor among the 13,000 respondents. Surprisingly, Hewlett-Packard's rapid growth in marketshare may cool during the holidays: although HP's demand has remained steady for most of the year, demand for HP's home desktops and portables has dipped to 24 and 21 percent, a drop of 4 percent in each case. The computer builder's corporate sales have remained largely flat, peaking at 18 percent for desktops.

If anticipated purchases are an indication, Dell has yet to recover from its "downward spiral" from the past two years, ChangeWave says. The company's desktops remained at their two-year low of 31 percent demand while notebooks dropped from 29 to 28 percent. Businesses only saw a slight upturn but were only slightly higher than lows set in August.

And while there are more "very satisfied" owners of Dell and HP systems, more of their user bases in the study group are likely to complain about the experience than before: Dell's dissatisfied base has grown from 8 to 12 percent, while HP sees a near-identical climb from 9 to 13 percent.

User satisfaction rankings