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Apple retail share rises

But with iMac sales apparently falling, how long can it last?

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Apple appears to be moving back toward its former status as a 'top three' PC vendor, according to the latest sales figures from the US retail and mail order channels compiled by market research agency PC Data.

However, the company's sales do appear to be slowing down, largely due to a tail-off of interest in the iMac, the very machine that has driven Apple's recovery over the past couple of years.

According to PC Data's numbers, Apple's market share hit 9.6 per cent in April, putting it behind eMachines (13 per cent), Hewlett-Packard (32 per cent) and Compaq (34 per cent). That sounds great, but it's important not to get too optimistic here. For a start, the list misses some major names, most notably Dell, because PC Data doesn't count direct sales (which also means many of Apple's sales aren't counted too) or major corporate sales.

Add in all these factors, and Apple's quickly falls back down the marketshare chart.

Then there's that fact that Apple's sales volumes are way down on April 1999. According to PC Data, Apple's year-on-year growth is below the industry par. Whith the Power Mac, PowerBook and iBook lines continuing to sell well, that points to a big downturn in iMac sales which, given Apple's keen interest in the consumer sector as a motor for growth, is rather worrying.

PC Data itself blames Apple's slowness in updating the iMac line, which was last refreshed in October 1999, eight months ago. Until now, Apple has managed to update the machine every six months - and even that's longer than the industry average of four months.

Here in the UK, retail sources cited by MacWorld confirmed iMac sales appear to be "bottoming out" ®

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