Good news for Apple in terms of sales is offset by a pummeling on the stock market

Independent research often is used to verify thing we knew all along.  Among the studies to fall in this category was the recent market research which confirmed that Apple computers, on average, cost nearly twice as much as Vista computers.  This is good news for Apple, who despite a reinvigorated advertising campaign from Microsoft, is cashing in on its chic brand image.

In the latest NPD sales info, Windows PCs had a strong 80 percent unit share at online and brick-and-mortar retail stores in June and July.  However, despite having less than 20 percent unit share (some units were netbooks running Linux distros), Apple managed to make over 35 percent of the revenue share -- over 1 in 3 dollars spent on computers.  Apple may not be beating Windows in sales, but it is making a lot of money.

Notebooks are the biggest sales category according to the latest report, with unit sales expected to eclipse 148.2 million this year, says research firm IDC.  Year-to-year growth rates of notebooks were 37.2 percent and an impressive 44.7 percent outside the United States.

Apple laptop revenues continued to rise, growing 30 percent, compared to Windows which showed 1.5 percent growth.  Windows fared better in unit growth, which was 10 percent compared to 35 percent for Apple.  Windows is selling more, but Apple is selling less for more.  The lowest priced Apple computers were $1,099, while most Windows partners had a model priced at below $500. 

The average sales price for both Windows and Mac computers dipped slightly.  For Windows in July and August Window's ASP fell to $694, from $700 in June.  Meanwhile, Apple's dipped to $1,471, down from $1,515 in June and $1,588 in June 2007.

The report generally was good news for Apple, but some analysts, such as eWeek's Joe Wilcox think that Apple has hit a peak at its current price point.  Wilcox wrote, "What's next? I predict that Apple's grab for dollars has gone about as far as it can, without price cuts. Apple's higher prices buck industry trends. About two weeks ago, IDC credited low-cost portables for driving worldwide PC shipments. The trend in notebook buying is lower pricing in a market where Apple sells high."

To add to its worries about netbooks, Apple also has to recover from a beating on the stock market.  RBC Capital analyst Mike Abramsky downgraded his rating on Apple, following a survey from RBC conducted with ChangeWave, which indicated Mac sales could be cooling off in the corporate market.  The result was dramatic, with Apple shares taking the worst hit in eight years.

Shares of Apple plunged 18 percent, after falling 16 percent in only an hour.  The losses in that hour cost Apple $18B USD in market capital.  The losses for the day brought its stock down to May 2007 levels.  Some analysts argue that the market and fellow analysts overreacted to the report.  Nonetheless, despite the good news, Tuesday was a painful day for Apple.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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