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Thursday, May 31, 2012, 09:19 am PT (12:19 pm ET)

Mac shipments grow 40% in Asia even without new models from Apple

Growth in Mac sales was led by the Asia-Pacific region last quarter, where shipments increased by 40 percent year over year.

Asia-Pacific was highlighted as the primary "bright spot" for the Mac in the last quarter by analyst Charlie Wolf with Needham & Company. Shipment growth of 40 percent in the region offset negative year-over-year growth in the U.S. and Europe.

Shipments were down in the U.S. and Europe because Apple didn't update any of its Mac lineup in the first quarter of calendar 2012. But the lack of new products didn't hinder growth in Asia-Pacific, where Apple easily outpaced the overall PC market's year-over-year growth of just 3.6 percent.

The strong performance in Asia-Pacific allowed global Mac shipments to grow 6.9 percent in the March quarter, which meant that Apple once again outpaced overall PC shipment growth. The total worldwide PC market saw its shipments increase 2.2 percent year over year in the March quarter.

Still, with the lack of new products, Apple didn't beat the overall PC market by as wide of a margin as it did in December, when Mac shipments grew 24.8 percent compared to a 1.7 percent decline in total PC shipments.

"We believe the slowdown (in the March quarter) can be attributed primarily to the absence of any upgrades of Mac models during the quarter, which has typically been a catalyst for shipment growth," Wolf wrote in a note to investors on Thursday. "However, we expect Apple to upgrade both the iMac and MacBooks in June, in advance of the back-to-school buying season."

Needham


Some rumors have suggested Apple plans to introduce new Macs at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference when it kicks off with a keynote presentation on Monday, June 11. Specifically, Apple is expected to introduce new MacBook Pros with Retina displays and a thinner design inspired by the MacBook Air, as well as new iMacs that could also receive a Retina display upgrade.

The absence of new Macs in the March quarter also didn't hurt Apple in the business market, where Mac sales grew by 10.4 percent year over year. That easily outpaced Windows, which saw its business sales grow just 0.1 percent.

Wolf also said that the iPad has "undoubtedly" cannibalized sales of the Mac from Apple, particularly in the education market. But given that iPad sales are growing at a rate much faster than Mac sales, he believes the iPad is taking a "much bigger bite" out of Windows-based PC sales.