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Mac sales surge, PC sales stay steady

Sales of Apple computers jump 26 percent in July from the same month last year, while PC sales inch up just 4 percent over the same period, according to data from NPD.

Mac sales grew by 26 percent in the United States in July, a healthy surge, compared with PCs, which saw only a 4 percent rise in unit sales last month, according to new NPD data cited by Barclays Capital.

The 26 percent gain in Mac sales over July 2010 came on top of growth of only 7 percent in June but 21 percent in May. Analyzing the data in an investor report released Monday, Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes attributed the surge to the launch of Mac OS X Lion, as well as to the July 20 launches of Apple's new MacBook Air and Mac Mini computers.

Mac growth was also up year over year this July because Apple didn't release its new iMac and Mac products last year until July 27, Reitzes said. But the average selling price of a Mac was about the same relative to last year, at $1,338 versus $716 for the average PC.

On the other side of the fence, the 4 percent growth in PC sales in July followed the same level of growth in June and 9.5 percent growth in May. Shipments of subnotebooks, or Netbooks, dropped 13 percent in July after a 20 percent decline in June, according to the NPD data.

Of course, the Mac still holds only a small slice of the overall PC market, with Windows-based computers grabbing the largest portion. But Apple's share has been growing, especially in the United States, where it carved out nearly 11 percent of the market in the second quarter, according to IDC data cited by AppleInsider and other sources. And Reitzes expects demand for Macs to continue to grow.

"Given the data and our checks, our estimate for Mac growth of [18 percent year over year] for Apple's [calendar third quarter] may turn out to be conservative, even though the global economy appears to be slowing quite a bit," Reitzes said in his report.

Related stories:
• Analyst: Apple MacBook to make gains on PC
• Apple gains as PC shipments tumble in Europe
• Apple's Mac refresh plays into download strategy

Other analysts are also eyeing gains in Mac sales, even as PC sales weaken.

A recent report from Deutsche Bank found that as demand for Windows computers softens, Apple will be in a better position to capture more market share. A new report from Gartner cited a 19 percent drop in PC sales in Western Europe during the second quarter, but Apple was the only vendor of the top five to eke out any growth.

Apple's third quarter, which ended June 25, saw the company sell 3.95 million Macs, a 14 percent rise from the prior year's quarter.