Apple: Great - In the U.S.

Oct.23.07 | About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

Yesterday, John Markoff astonished readers with the rate at which Apple's share of the PC market is growing:

Last week, the research firm Gartner said PC shipments in the United States grew only 4.7 percent in the third quarter, below its projection of 6.7 percent.
That contrasted sharply with Apple’s projected results for the quarter. Gartner forecast that Apple would grow more than 37 percent based on expected shipments of 1.3 million computers, for an 8.1 percent share of the domestic market.

Of course, Markoff had to use Gartner's projections, because the actual Apple numbers didn't come out until this afternoon. But it seems that Gartner wasn't far off. Apple doesn't break down its US sales, but it did sell 1.4 million computers between its "Americas" and "Retail" channels, which must be overwhelmingly US.

Globally, Apple sold 2.2 million computers in its third quarter, up 23% quarter-on-quarter and up 34% year-on-year. But then again, according to Gartner again, worldwide PC shipments are totalling 68.5 million per quarter, up 14% year-on-year. So although Apple's share of the global PC market is rising, it's still only just over 3%.

What are we to make of the fact that Apple is doing so much better domestically than it is abroad? On the one hand, it means there are clearly huge growth prospects for the company – if Apple can get its global market share up to say 5%, that would mean Apple shipping a good 60% more computers than it is right now.

But on the other hand, Apple's market share ex-US is clearly pathetic. If Apple sold 1.3 million computers in the US, that means it sold only 0.9 million computers outside the US. But according to Gartner, the total number of computers shipped outside the US is now 52 million per quarter. Which gives Apple an ex-US market share of just 1.7%.

And remember that astonishing line outside the Apple store in Tokyo? Apple's sales in Japan actually fell quarter-on-quarter, by 11%.

These are numbers reminiscent of the bad old days when Steve Jobs was roaming the wilderness running NeXT and Pixar. If the Mac brand is going to keep on growing at its present pace, it's going to have to go global; the weak dollar should be a big help. But so far there's not much sign of that happening.