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Monday, January 17, 2011, 01:20 pm PT (04:20 pm ET)

Apple's domestic holiday Mac sales up 18% year over year

New domestic sales data from the NPD Group shows that Apple's U.S. Mac sales were up 18 percent year-over-year during the holidays, suggesting that the company remains on track to report its best quarterly Mac sales ever.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray on Monday revealed the new figures from NPD, which showed domestic Mac sales up 18 percent during Apple's holiday quarter. International Mac sales are growing faster than domestic, which means Apple is in line to meet Wall Street expectations of 24 percent year-over-year sales growth.

Munster noted that NPD data from the September 2010 quarter indicated Mac sales were up 22 percent year over year, while Apple reported actual Mac unit growth of 27 percent. That could foreshadow another out-performance from Apple in the holiday quarter.

The analyst noted that Apple launched its new MacBook Air models during the quarter, and the thin and light notebooks are expected to be hot sellers over the holidays.

But potentially offsetting that is the fact that Apple redesigned the iMac in late 2009, a significant product upgrade that could negate any significant growth from the launch of the new MacBook Air models. Munster believes Apple will sell 1.2 million iMacs in the December quarter, without a major redesign, compared to about 500,000 of the new, thinner MacBook Air.

As it did in December, the latest NPD data shows that Apple remains on pace to sell as many as 4.3 million Macs in the December quarter. If that proves accurate, it would be Apple's best quarter ever for Mac sales. The previous record came in its last financial quarter, when the company sold a record 3.89 million Macs.

The latest NPD data also shows that Apple is on pace to sell between 18.5 million and 19.5 million iPods in the December quarter. Tracking from the company has shown U.S. iPod sales down about 3 percent for the quarter.

Investors on Wall Street expect Apple to report iPod sales about 9 percent lower than in 2009. International iPod sales, which are not a part of the NPD data, are a larger mix than international Mac sales, which results in a greater margin of error when viewing the NPD data.

Apple will report its quarterly earnings and sales figures on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m. Pacific. AppleInsider will have full coverage.