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Apple's Mac OS X Snow Leopard sales double previous records

Retail sales of Mac OS X Snow Leopard upgrades, boosted by a new low price, resulted in strong sales that doubled the previously record-setting launch of Leopard.

Speaking in the company's Q4 earnings conference call, Chief Operations Officer Tim Cook said that "the upgrade sales of Snow Leopard, which we include family and box sets, were more than double what we experienced from Leopard over the same five-week sales period."

Cook noted, "that was much more than we planned, very pleasantly surprised."

Leapfrogging the Leopard Launch

In December 2007, NPD reported that the first full month of Mac OS X Leopard sales had beat the previous Tiger launch by 20.5 percent. Leopard was released at the end of October 2007.

"It's really stunning to see Apple have one blow-out OS launch after another," NPD analyst Chris Swenson told AppleInsider at the time. "It's clear that Apple has hit upon the right strategy for rolling out new versions of its OS."

The 2005 release of Tiger itself had achieved a 30 percent increase over the 2003 Panther update, and 100 percent greater sales than the 2002 release of Jaguar.

Satisfaction spawns sales

A month later, ChangeWave Research founder Tobin Smith reported that customer satisfaction with Leopard was helping to drive dramatic new increases in Mac sales.

"It comes as no surprise that Apple sets the standard in terms of customer satisfaction," Smith said, "but there’s a new twist on why they’re outperforming the rest of the industry — it’s the amazing customer satisfaction rating on Apple’s new Leopard OS."

ChangeWave reported that 81 percent its 4,600 survey participants had ranked Leopard as "very satisfied," compared to only 51-53 percent of Windows XP users or 15-27% of Windows Vista. The satisfaction survey targeted the preinstalled operating system of users who had bought a new computer within the last 90 days.

Maintaining Mac momentum

Strong sales and favorable reviews of Snow Leopard harmonize with the unprecedented sales of over 3 million Macs in the quarter ending in October.

Cook credited Snow Leopard's release with boosting sales of Macs in the quarter, saying that "with every new OS you have some pent-up demand that ships with the operating system as people hold to get the latest."

Last month, NPD reported that sales of Snow Leopard were strong and maintaining greater sustained momentum that previous releases. While Leopard and Tiger saw sales drop more than 60 percent following their initial launch, sales of Snow Leopard reportedly dipped only 25 percent in week two.