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Apple ramps up share of US retail PC sales takings

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Apple accounted for just under half - 48 per cent - of all the money spent on desktop computers in US retailers during October 2009, market watcher NPD has revealed.

That figure is a gain on the 33 per cent of revenue Apple took in October 2008.

It's not all good news for the company: revenues from Apple laptops dropped from 38 per cent to 34 per cent, year on year, according to NPD numbers quoted by Betanews. Windows 7's launch undoubtedly fuelled new laptop purchases.

The desktop market isn't as big as the mobile one and it's getting smaller all the time, so the success in the laptop arena is more important to Apple than winning in the desktop space. But NPD's numbers do highlight the manufacturer's ability to get punters to pay for relatively pricey computers, indicating the Apple's pricing strategy is a success.

NPD's figures for average US desktop selling prices put Windows machines at $491 and Apple's on $1338 - more than two-and-a-half times as much. Both have fallen since October 2008, when they were $556 and $1581, respectively.

For notebooks, the figures are $519 (Windows) and $1410 (Apple), down from $659 and $1575 a year ago.

Now, this doesn't mean Apple's machines are more expensive than PC makers' offerings - this is an average price across the broad range of price points that vendors target. Apple is one vendor making two desktops. There are many, many more PC vendors, with much more kit aimed at the low end, a segment of the market Apple doesn't operate in, and that inevitably skews the average well out of the Mac maker's favour.

Crucially, NPD's numbers show that, despite the availability of much cheaper PCs and the recession, US punters clearly perceive a benefit to paying a high price for a desktop machine and to handing over the money to Apple rather than HP, Dell or any other others. Yes, PC vendors took 52 per cent of desktop sales revenue, but they had to share it out amongst themselves. Apple gets to keep all of its 48 per cent.

Revenue share is one thing, unit share quite another, and shipment figures from any market research company you care to name shows Apple's rivals shifting way more boxes than it does, many of them into big business which Apple will always struggle to sell to. But Apple has the ability to turn lower unit sales into higher dollar value.

That's one reason why Apple shares are trading for four times the price of HP stock. There are more HP shares out there, of course, so let's look at the market capitalisation: $118.7bn for HP, $183.9bn for Apple

Betanews notes that NPD senior analyst Stephen Baker believes Apple's desktop revenue share gain is unsustainable, and it's not hard to see Apple's revenue share falling back to the 33 per cent it took on October 2008.

But a third of sales dollars going to one company is an achievement in itself. Say what you like about Jobs and Co., and their product, you can't deny they know how to sell computers to consumers. And they're doing so very nicely, thank you. ®

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