Analyst Gene Munster and his team of researchers spent 7 hours in Apple Stores on Black Friday, the biggest retail shopping day of the year. They found that the iPad is expanding its demographics, on its way to becoming the "Mac of the masses."
"We noticed that the iPad his gaining traction (driven by lower price vs. the Mac) among demographics in which the Mac has historically not been successful," Munster wrote. "The bottom line is that Apple's addressable market is expanding with the iPad, and as a result, we believe the potential for upside from the iPad increases over the next 12 months."
Checks with Apple stores also found that Mac sales were about flat. Piper Jaffray tracked 8.2 Macs sold per store, per hour, in line with the 8.3 per hour it saw last year.
"Despite the flat [year over year] data, we remain comfortable with the Street's ~24% Mac unit growth (4.2m units) for the Dec. quarter given growth in international, eCommerce, survey error (only seven hours in the store) and factoring in the Oct. NPD data," Munster wrote.
Analyst Chris Whitmore polled more than 150 stores over the Black Friday weekend, with more than 100 Apple retail stores, and over 50 AT&T, Verizon, Best Buy, Walmart and Target stores contacted as well. He found strong and healthy demand for all of Apple's product lines.
Whitmore noted that Apple has seen "very healthy demand" for the new MacBook Air. Employees at Apple stores indicated that the small, 11-inch MacBook Air has been particularly popular, calling it a "customer favorite" and saying that the product has been "flying off the shelves."
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Despite typical modest discounts, Apple's retail stores saw heavy foot traffic for Black Friday, analyst Shaw Wu noted. He noted that Black Friday weekend typically accounts for 10 percent of holiday sales, and Apple saw strong uptake of the iPad, iPod and MacBook Air.
"Overall product availability appears much improved compared to previous quarters," Wu said. "However, we picked up spot shortages on iPod nanos as well as some iPod touches at several third-party retailers. Our sources indicate that this is due to unexpected strong demand as many thought stand-alone MP3 players were a 'dead' category."
HE expects Apple to sell about 6 million iPads and 16.5 million iPads, though he said those numbers "could turn conservative." He has also predicted sales of 4 million Macs and 15.5 million iPhones.