Modest Black Friday discounts help Mac sales

Some thought Apple would slash prices on Macs beyond its usual Black Friday discounts, but it stuck with the plan and Mac sales responded, according to analysts.

Apple didn't cut prices as much as some had expected on Black Friday, but it didn't seem to matter to consumers. CNET

Few analysts were prepared to call Apple's Black Friday performance a blowout, but in general they thought consumers responded well to Apple's products and pricing last week.

Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Brothers, and Maynard Um of UBS have weighed in with their thoughts on Apple's sales during the first official shopping day of the holiday season. Expectations had been muted going into the weekend, which many had thought would be dismal given the economic environment.

But the overall picture wasn't as bad as some had feared. And despite sticking with its historical Black Friday discount strategy rather than rolling out aggressive price cuts, Apple fared well, according to Munster. Checks at various Apple retail stores indicated that "Mac sales were better than expected" and iPhone sales were about in line with expectations, he wrote in a research note Monday.

Kaufman's Wu wrote, "Despite modest 5 percent-10 percent discounts by AAPL itself through its retail stores and website, our distributor and retail checks indicate strong foot traffic at AAPL stores and that iPods and Macs did fairly well, helped by bigger promotions by third-party retailers and unadvertised price matching by AAPL." There had been reports that Apple was planning to discount its products more steeply than in the past in response to concerns over the health of the economy, but the company stood pat.

UBS' Um also noted that Apple resellers, such as Best Buy and MacMall, were willing to discount prices more aggressively than Apple as well as apply discounts to products that Apple wouldn't touch in its own stores, such as the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

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