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Mac desktop sales slide 62 per cent

Pray Jobs comes up with the goods in Tokyo...

If Apple does unveil new iMacs and iBooks at MacWorld Expo Tokyo tomorrow, it better pray that punters like them.

US consumers certainly didn't like what the company was offering last month. Retail sales of desktop Macs fell 62 per cent year on year, according to US retail market watcher PC Data's latest figures. Notebooks sales were down 36 per cent.

Of course, Apple was always going to have a rough January, what with shipments expected to be down on a poor Christmas sales period, and the company's attempt to shift unsold stock despite the prospect of better systems on the way. And its top two Power Mac G4 machines, both based on the new PowerPC 7450 chip - the long-awaited G4 Plus - have only just begun shipping.

During January, desktop sales as a whole fell 26 per cent in volume, so the issue is affecting the industry as a whole. That said, Apple does seem to have been particularly badly hit.

Notebooks sales slipped just nine per cent, though Sony clearly weathered the changing market conditions with aplomb, notching up a 137 per cent increase in Vaio sales. Hewlett-Packard was up 85 per cent. Apple dismal drop was shared by Compaq (down 41 per cent) and Toshiba (33 per cent). Again, limited availability of new product - specifically the PowerBook G4 - won't have done Apple any favours.

PC Data analyst Stephen Baker, cited by MacCentral, noted that consumers seems to be less interested in low prices as more features and higher system specs. That suggests experienced users are continuing to buy machines, while less savvy consumers are not. That's good news for Apple, which is expected to announce major upgrades to its consumer line-up this week. ®

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