Apple Dominates Premium Computer Market

Apple continues to rule retail sales for $1000-and-up PCs, according to market researcher NPD Group.

Some 91 percent of retail dollars spent on computers in June went to Apple, a dramatic increase over the Mac’s 66 percent share in the first quarter of 2008, reports Betanews, which broke the story.

“Apple has had a huge share of the $1000-and-up premium retail computer market for quite a while,” NPD analyst Stephen Baker told PC World in a phone interview. “Basically, every single Mac notebook is over a thousand dollars, with the exception of one. Just from that perspective alone, [Apple] is going to be far and away the dominant player in that segment.”

And on the Windows side? “A quick glance at what’s available in the marketplace leads you to recognize there just aren’t very many Windows PCs available for over a thousand dollars,” Baker said.

With consumers migrating to cheaper, lighter notebooks, Apple’s high-end dominance isn’t necessarily a good thing. “They’re getting a bigger and bigger share of a pie that really isn’t getting any bigger,” Baker said.

In four of the first six months of this year, Apple’s unit growth was negative in notebooks. According to Baker, Apple’s response was to drop the prices on a lot of products, including the ultraslim MacBook Air.

Pricing Pressures

The retail market for $1000-plus PCs is shrinking. “Truthfully, it was never a really big market to begin with, not in the last couple of years,” Baker said.

Five years ago, the average selling price of a notebook PC was $1500. Today, it’s only $700, even when you factor in Apple systems. When you exclude Apple, the average selling price drops to under $570.

Premium Windows PCs in the retail marketplace are usually divided into two groups: stylish thin-and-light notebooks like the Dell Adamo, and ultra-powerful gaming systems.

“And while the gaming market is doing OK, those very expensive thin-and-lights are under a lot of pressure right now,” Baker said.

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