Analyst: Apple Could Rock a Record 4.6 Million Mac Sales this Quarter

After a blockbuster summer that witnessed the launch of the new MacBook Air, MacBook Mini, and Mac OS X Lion, Apple is on pace to close the year out with a record 4.6 million Mac sales, analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray said in a note to investors. Mr. Munster made his prediction after combing through data from market research firm NPD, which said that Mac sales skyrocketed 22 percent year-over-year in July and August.

Mr. Munster noted that the launch of OS X Lion helped boost overall Mac sales, and that the MacBook Air could end up accounting for up to 20 percent of all Mac sales in the third quarter. That's impressive, and perhaps a little disturbing for Intel and its Windows partners, which are all hoping Intel's Ultrabook concept will pick up steam and slow the march of Macs into the mainstream.

Apple's staggering sales come at a time when the PC market is struggling. According to IDC's figures, worldwide PC shipments increased only 2.7 percent in the second quarter of 2011, slightly lower than the 2.9 percent it had forecast. And for the full year, PC sales are expected to grow by just 2.8 percent, down from a previous forecast of 4.2 percent.

"While consumers have pulled back in part due to economic circumstances, consumer PCs have also suffered due to a relative lack of compelling offerings. With the excitement of mini notebooks largely past, the PC industry has struggled to come up with compelling features to keep buyer interest, and has subsequently suffered some budget-competition from smartphones as well as media tablets, which sold more than 107 million and 13.5 million units, respectively in the second quarter of 2011," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst, Worldwide PC Tracker. "The proposed spin-off of HP's PC business has also contributed to uncertainty in the market as the channel and corporate users re-evaluate their next steps."

HP only recently announced plans to spin off its PC business, and combined with HP's decision to ditch its TouchPad tablet, Apple could see some additional sales from the fallout.