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Apple could sell record 4.6 million Macs this quarter

Buoyed by Mac OS X Lion and new computers released in July, Apple could easily break its record of 4.1 million Macs sold during last year's holiday-shopping quarter, says a Piper Jaffray analyst.

The new MacBook Air is boosting Apple's Mac sales for the quarter.
The new MacBook Air is boosting Apple's Mac sales for the quarter. Apple

Apple could break a record this quarter by selling as many as 4.6 million Macs, according to the latest forecast from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Based on robust demand for OS X Lion and July's refreshed MacBook Airs and Mac Minis, Munster is callling for Mac sales of between 4.4 million and 4.6 million for the quarter ending this month, with an expected target of 4.5 million, in line with Wall Street estimates.

Mac sales in the U.S. for July and August were up 22 percent over the same period last year, according to data from NPD. Hitting 4.5 million for the current quarter would score a new record for Mac sales and a 16 percent gain from a year ago.

The previous record for Mac sales was 4.1 million during the holiday-shopping quarter of 2010, according to AppleInsider. This year, Apple sold 3.95 million Macs in its fiscal third quarter, which ended in late June, and 3.76 million during its fiscal second quarter, which ended in late March.

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The wait for Lion, which debuted on July 20, created some pent-up demand for Mac users, Munster said, since Mac sales in June inched up only 7 percent. Sales were also boosted by the MacBook Air, which is expected to account for between 10 and 20 percent of all Mac units sold for the quarter.

The initial demand for Lion and the new Macs will start to ease off this month, added Munster, as the tailwind from the new releases fades. For now, though, sales from Macs alone will likely represent around 20 percent of Apple's overall revenue for the third quarter.