This week, two things happened in the Apple universe: the company announced a refresh for its Mac lineup, and sales numbers for its current Mac lineup were released. The latter certainly indicates that Apple needs the former to increase sales for the company's computers because the latter showed a collapse in sales equaling a roughly 34% decrease year-over-year from 2022 to 2023.
Apple's sales decline for computers
For a few years, Apple had seen a steady increase in sales for their Mac computer line. A large portion of that sales increase came because the company had changed its hardware significantly for the first time in years. Apple moved from using Intel processors, which had been the way of doing business for the past decade or so and switched to designing its own line of M-series chips.
The transition itself wouldn't have been enough, necessarily, to increase sales significantly. But, because the company does its best work in the dark, controlling every aspect of the hardware and software, the performance of the hardware increased. The increase was enough to get long-time and die-hard Mac fans to upgrade their existing computers. However, the M-series chips are no longer the new and exciting feature they once were, and the performance increases are not what they were initially.
This lack of a compelling selling feature has meant that sales of Macs have slowed down in recent months. In fact, sales of computers dropped 34% year-over-year for the 4th fiscal quarter of 2023. This is a huge decrease in sales and likely indicates that any Apple customers who wanted to upgrade from an Intel-based Mac to an M-based Mac have already done so. From here on out, the company is going to need to create a compelling reason for customers to upgrade.
Apple's new Macs likely won't do it
The company also announced an update to some of its Mac computers. As opposed to previous announcements following the release of the M-series processors, all 3 levels of the M3 were announced and released at once: the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Ultra. Certain processors will be available in certain products, depending on the use and utility of the product.
However, despite the increase in speed and video performance, this upgrade is simply not enough of a reason to upgrade for most users. There's nothing new and exciting in the form-factor arena, no new sizes of laptops, or even connectivity improvements. I do not see this lineup of products being the thing that pushes Apple out of its Mac sales slump.
Services are growing - for now
While hardware sales might be down for the company, service sales are up. Services are up 16% year-over-year and 9% from 2022 to 2023 as a whole. Service increases have likely come from the more manageable Apple One subscription which bundles many of the company's services together into a single monthly plan.
But, these gains might not last, as the company also has a price increase coming for almost all of its services, including Apple One. With inflation where it is, and a major economic stagnation, many consumers are looking for some fat to trim, and Apple's services could be on the chopping block for many families who could see it as an indulgence they simply can no longer afford.