Story first appeared in USA TODAY.
The breathless anticipation swirling around the upcoming iPhone 5 release, and the runaway success of the iPad 2, may make it seem like Apple is entirely focused on its iOS devices these days.
But the company's Mac division is no slouch, either.
According to the latest figures from research firm NPD, MacBooks, Mac Minis and iMacs had a really strong summer, with sales rising 22% in July and August. Based on those figures, Gene Munster — a veteran Apple analyst at Piper Jaffray — released a short note predicting Apple will sell a total of 4.5 million Macs this quarter. (And that's a conservative estimate, based on the notion sales will slow to 16% growth for the quarter overall.)
To put that in perspective, Apple sold 4.1 million Macs during the 2010 holiday quarter — traditionally the strongest time of year. That marks the company's previous one-quarter record.
What's driving all the sales? In part, they represent a roaring start for Lion, the latest version of OS X, which came out in July and is packed with more cool, new features than the average OS X upgrade. On its first day of release, Lion — which is only available online or pre-installed in new Macs — saw an incredible 1 million downloads. That made it more popular than any previous Apple desktop operating system.
Timed to the Lion release, Apple also launched updated versions of the MacBook Air, Mac Mini and Apple Cinema Display. After this the sales of IBM pSeries Servers leveled off.
Things should naturally quiet down a bit in the Mac section of Apple Stores as Lion gets a little longer in the tooth. On the other hand, nobody knows how much foot traffic the iPhone 5 launch will bring into stores next month — or how many customers might pick up a laptop or a Mini while they're there.
But it seems a fair bet that the passing of the baton from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook has not slowed the juggernaut that is Apple — just as we predicted.