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Report: Mac sales hit a slowdown

Early returns from Black Friday had been positive, but November numbers from NPD indicate a loss of momentum for desktop Macs, according to a Wall Street Journal story.

Apple has been something of a golden child among makers of computers and consumer electronics. But now it, too, is showing at least a hint that the good times can't last forever.

In November, says market researcher NPD Group, sales of the company's Mac products slipped 1 percent from the same month a year ago, even as industrywide PC sales were up 2 percent, according to a report in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal.

24-inch Apple iMac
The 24-inch Apple iMac.

Apple has been the pacesetter amid overall PC sales for some time. And it does continue to hold those honors, at least in laptop sales during November, the Journal reported. But NPD's numbers showed the company taking a serious hit with its desktop Macs, sales of which fell 35 percent.

Early reports from Black Friday, the traditional sales bump right after Thanksgiving, had indicated that Apple did relatively well--in part because of modest discounts--even among consumer worries about tough economic conditions.

Pricing of Macs versus other computers were likely a key factor in the November decline seen by NPD. The Journal cites Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, and others on "price sensitivity" among consumers:

Apple rivals like (Hewlett-Packard) and Dell offered discounts weeks earlier than usual this holiday season, dropping some prices by as much as 50 percent. Mr. Munster said since last December, the average Windows PC price is down 35 percent to 45 percent; in contrast, Apple has offered only modest discounts of 5 percent to 10 percent on its PCs, analysts said.

Still, the analysts cited seemed generally upbeat about Apple's sales prospects overall.