ChangeWave: MacBook sales up in next 3 months, HP and Dell down

Posted by Christian Zibreg

Chicago (IL) - This month's ChangeWave survey of consumer purchases
over the past and next 90 days paints a bleak picture for makers of
consumer PCs and electronics. Despite strong demand for low-end
netbooks that continue to gain importance -- the result of the depressed
economy, the survey clearly shows yet another decline in computer
spending and weaknesses in consumer electronics spending. In
short, only Apple laptop sales will increase in the next 90 days,
according to the report, whereas HP and Dell portables will drop as consumers opt for cheaper
netbooks. When it comes to desktops, most prefer Dell but sales of
desktops continue free-falling across the board as consumers turn to much cheaper netbooks, now representing better than one in six of all notebooks sold.

The latest ChangeWave February
research provides an unambiguous outlook of
consumer PC and electronics purchases over the past 90 days, as well as insight
into planned consumer purchases over the next three months. The findings
released by the research firm are based on polling 3,115
consumers between February 2 - 9, based on a questionnaire that focuses on
a consumer's current and future PC and electronics buying patterns.
Readers should note that numbers exclude corporate buyers as these will
be released in a separate report later this month.

consumer electronics buying dropped to the lowest level since the 2002
survey, which followed the collapse of the dot com bubble and the World Trade Center attacks. The market for shiny gadgets is obviously shrinking, with 12% of respondents planning to spend more on
electronics over the next 90 days, but a whopping 43% opting to spend
less in the same period. The latter figure represents 5 full percentage points decline compared to December numbers, just 60 days ago.

Yet another decline in computer sales

show the lowest planned computer buying ever recorded in a ChangeWave
survey. Just 4% of respondents plan to buy a desktop in the next 90
days, a 1% decline over January's survey, while laptop buying remains
unchanged at 6%. Purchases in past 90 days don't look better either,
with just 6% and 11% of respondents buying a desktop and a laptop
respectively in the past 90 days. Both figures represent a 1 percentage
point drop over January results. ChangeWave noted that the combined
percentage is "down significantly compared to February of 2008."

Past and next 90 days: Apple wiggles, HP holds ground, Dell down

of Mac desktops and notebooks in the past 90 days compared with January
numbers reveal a sharper drop than aforementioned 1 percentage point
dip of the overall computer market. Among respondents who bought a
computer over the past 90 days, 15% and 20% went for a Mac desktop and
laptop respectively, down 2 percentage points from the month ago
period. Planned purchases of Apple desktops in the next 90 days among
respondents also dropped 2 percentage points over 26% recorded in
January but planned Macbook purchases rose 3 percentage points over the
30% recorded month ago.

HP desktop and notebook sales in the
past 90 days among respondents were up 5 and 4 percentage points
respectively from the month ago period, and currently stand at 27% both.
When it comes to the next 90 days, HP holds ground with 28% planned
desktop purchases, the same as in January, and 22% (down 1 percentage
point from the month ago) in planned notebook purchases. HP's figures
should be taken with a grain of salt since the ChangeWave survey focuses
only on the U.S. market where HP makes just 30% of its sales.

of Dell desktops and laptops in the past 90 days dropped 2 and 1
percentage point respectively over January figures, with 33%
respondents who said they bought a Dell desktop and 21% a Dell
notebook. The company also recorded 2 percentage points decline in
planned desktop (32%) and laptop (26%) purchases in the next 90 days
compared to January figures. Readers should note that consumer sales represent only one fifth of Dell's total sales, which are mostly corporate.

Read on next page:  
Netbooks undercut desktops, Apple hurt by not having a Mac netbook, sales down 6%, Customer satisfactory ratings...

Netbooks cutting into desktop sales

The overall
decline in planned PC desktop purchases, of course, is explained by the
proliferation of ultra-cheap netbooks that cost around $500 and deliver power and function most desktops could not have achieved just five years ago. Netbooks
are obviously starting cutting into desktop sales due to shrinking
consumer budgets amid gloomy economic outlooks. For example, netbooks
make up 17% of notebook purchases among respondents over the past 90 days,
meaning that netbooks now contribute to better than one in six of all
notebooks sold. In the next 90 days, 18% of respondents eyeing
notebooks said they will go with a netbook, an uptick of 4 percentage
points from a month ago.

Apple hurt by not having a Mac netbook, sales down 6%

This makes Acer,
ASUS, HP and Dell the biggest beneficiaries of rising netbook sales.
Apple has shown little interest to enter the market, although chief
of operations Timothy Cook, who is covering for Steve Jobs during his
leave of absence, recently told investors that the company is keeping
a close eye on it. The executive apparently told Sanford C. Bernstein & Co analyst Toni Sacconaghi
that the company has some "ideas" for an Apple netbook.

While Apple
considers its iPhone a viable netbook replacement (because it
replicates many Internet-related functions of a netbook), some analysts
warn that the lack of a Mac netbook and long overdue iMac refresh have
now contributed to NPD-estimated 6% Mac sales decline in Mac sales, first time in three years.

Consumers still love their Apples

"In terms of customer satisfaction, there's no question which company is the industry leader,"
said ChangeWave in a nod toward Apple and its unique
vertically integrated user experience. Asked to choose if they were
"very satisfied", "somewhat satisfied", "unsatisfied" or "very
unsatisfied" with the computer they bought in the past 90 days, a
whopping 81% of respondents who bought Mac said they are "very
satisfied" with the system.

This 81% figure reflects the recent Change
Wave survey of corporate satisfaction with operating systems, in which
54% OS X Leopard users express they are "very satisfied" with the
software, compared to 40% of Windows XP Professional users (between 5%
and 12% Vista users reported to be "very satisfied" with their operating system).

Established brands like HP, Dell and Sony
are far from Apple in this ChangeWave survey, recording 52%, 55% and
56% in the "very satisfied" rating respectively. It is interesting to note
that Dell outranked HP in consumer satisfaction, whereas both ASUS and Acer recorded higher ratings than HP and Dell with 67% and 61% respectively. This is most likely due to a rise of netbooks that ASUS and Acer rule.