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iBook tops US October sales charts

But iMac crowded out by sub-$600 Wintel boxes

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Apple's multi-hued iBook continues to dominate the US retail, online and mail-order sales charts, according to PC Data figures for October.

However, the latest version of the iMac, launched alongside the iBook, failed to make the top five desktop PC list, ousted by computers much cheaper than the Apple machine. The blueberry-coloured iBook topped the portable PC chart for October (as it did last month) outselling not only cheaper Wintel machines from Compaq, a more expensive Vaio notebook from Sony.

Even though the spec is the same, PC Data records sales figures for the blueberry and tangerine iBooks separately, so the combined figure, recording iBook popularity as a whole, is higher than PC Data's chart might at first seem.

That said, since the blueberry iBook outsold the tangerine model by 9:1, according to PC Data's senior hardware analyst, Stephen Baker, it wouldn't have added that much.

In some ways the same thing can be said about the iMac. With five versions of the standard $1299 iMac DV line, one more for the more basic $999 iMac and another for the $1499 iMac DV Special Edition, overall sales of the desktop are split seven ways. Together they might have made the top five, separately they didn't. Indeed, together sales of the previous, 333MHz in all colours would have put the iMac in the number five slot. But the 350MHz iMac DV was "way off the top", even if all the individual colours' figures were added together, Baker said.

But with prices in the current top five ranging from just $443 to $882, and a mean price of $592, it's not surprising that the iMac might be looking a tad uncompetitive in consumers' eyes. If so, this bodes ill for Apple's goal of double-figure growth during the current quarter, the first of fiscal 2000.

The sales success the company is anticipating is largely what's been driving up its share price of late, taking Apple stock to a series of all-time highs. As a rule, notebooks don't sell in the same numbers as desktops - Apple sold one-third as many iBooks as iMacs, said Baker - so while the iBook news is to be welcomed, the iMac numbers aren't too inspiring. Still, the key figures will be for November and December, to see the extent to which Christmas sales have ramped up Apple's shipment figures. ®

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