Analysts: PC growth rate eclipses Macs in November

In a surprising twist, Windows PCs regained ground against Macs during the month of November, says a leading analyst firm. Yet regardless of a difficult economy, notebook PCs of both persuasions showed strong sales.

In somewhat of a reversal of recent trends, sales of Apple's Macintosh computers fell flat in November, with no movement either up or down, whereas those of Windows PCs -- specifically, PCs with Windows pre-installed, as opposed to Linux PCs -- increased to the tune of 7 percent, according to new statistics from analyst firm NPD Group.

The reason, according to NPD statistics, is that the decline in desktop PC sales overall is hitting Apple harder than anyone else. Specifically, sales of Windows desktop PCs slid 15%, while sales of Mac desktops took a nosedive amounting to 38%. To make up for the decline, Windows notebooks stepped up by 15% and Mac notebooks climbed by 22%.

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Why did Windows PCs fare better in November than Macs? While NPD didn't come out and say so, cost could well have played the major role, in light of the deepening financial crisis.

Meanwhile, the increased notebook sales overall in both the Windows and Mac camps stands out sharply against declining spending on many other types of consumer electronics products.

In a study conducted by NPD Group just before Black Friday -- an event that happens at the end of November -- 33% of consumers who'd previously considered buying a flat panel TV told the analyst firm that "because of the economy now they are definitely not going to buy one." Moreover, 25% of those who'd been looking at buying a higher-end camera on Black Friday had also changed their minds.

In a later report, issued after the big post-Thanksgiving shopping day, NPD found that notebook PC unit growth for the week of Black Friday increased almost 19% from the same period last year. Revenues from notebooks rose by 8%.

In contrast, although a few other categories -- such as GPS, plasma TVs, and digital picture frames -- also did well from November 23 through 29 of this year, overall revenues from consumer technology dropped 8% from last year's Black Friday week, the analysts said.

NPD's numbers somewhat mirror those of analyst group IDC. In a revised forecast issued earlier this month, IDC projected that in the US market, overall PC shipments will fall from 69.1 million in 2008 to 67.1 million in 2009. Desktop and x86 server shipments will drop from 34.4 million to 30.1 million, but portable PC shipments will rise from 34.7 million to 37.0 million.

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