No Requiem for the Desktop: Apple's Designs Help Revive the Fading Platform

In our mobile world in which laptops and smartphones increasingly rule, desktops are starting to go the way of eight-track tapes and rotary-dial phones. No one, apparently, bothered to tell Apple (AAPL) -- or its loyal customers. The company posted better-than-expected sales for its computers in October and November, thanks largely to the strength of its desktop models, says prominent analyst Gene Munster of investment bank Piper JaffrayTech.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%%

Citing figures from sales tracker NPD Group, the noted Apple bull said sales of Mac computers for the the two months are running roughly 21% over the same period last year, well ahead of Wall Street's 14% consensus estimate for sales growth. The new iMac and Mac mini units seem to be leading the charge, with the sales of these and other Apple desktop products up 74% in unit volume year-over-year for the third quarter thus far, Munster says.

What's more, much of the really good sales news for Apple may be in December when shoppers traditionally throw down for Macs. That Apple is able to grow its computer sales in the midst of a such troubled economy is impressive. Even more remarkable, though, is this innovative consumer electronics company's ability to essentially revive a platform that had been left for dead.

Desktop sales have been declining a piece of the relative PC sales pie for years now. Laptop sales, correspondingly, have come to dominate the space. At the same time, Apple has, in recent years, enjoyed modest success from sales of iMacs and Mac minis.

So what changed? The iMac has won rave reviews, with its massive 27-inch display and its relatively powerful hardware internals that make it, finally, a viable workstation alternative for some creative types. The mini, likewise, made the crossover from a relatively weak default configuration to one with a faster CPU and more memory -- something that Apple users have longed for but that the company has long resisted.

Apple has been steadily growing its market share in the moribund PC space, as its hot retail store strategy and the wild popularity of the iPhone and iPod continue to cast a warm, fuzzy halo on Mac computers. And, as Munster notes, these recent numbers could be solid news for Apple. Computer sales are not the fastest growing part of Apple's business mix, but sales of laptops and desktop units dominate profits for Apple. Last quarter, Apple sold 3.05 million computers, representing a 17% unit increase.

Alex Salkever is Senior Writer at AOL Daily Finance covering technology and greentech. Follow him on twitter @alexsalkever, read his articles, or email him at
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