Apple: iPad ‘Cannibalization’ of Mac Uncertain, Says Needham
Needham & Co.'s Charlie Wolf joins the discussion among analysts over just what the relationship is betwen Apple 's ( AAPL ) Mac computer sales and the iPad . Wolf, who has a Buy rating on Apple shares, and a $620 price target, notes that Apple's sales of Macs outperformed the broader PC market globally in the March quarter for the 24th quarter in a row, rising 6.9% versus 2.2% in unit shipments. However, he notes that the growth was slower than the 24.8% growth in December. The slowing comes amidst a pause in new models from Apple, he notes. He also notes growth is much higher in Asia : "growth in the Asia-Pacific region continued to outstrip growth in other regions. Mac shipments in the region grew 40.0% compared to overall market growth of just 3.6%." Wolf thinks that overall, the iPad is having a beneficial " halo effect ," pulling in Mac buyers who might not have otherwise considered Macs. However, he also goes into some discussion at length of the possible cannibalization of Macs: The iPad has created a new category of computers where none existed before. The device is clearly expanding the market for personal computers. But it is also cannibalizing sales of notebook PCs because it provides all of functionality that a material segment of the market requires in an easier-to-use format and at a lower price […] From Apple’s perspective, Windows notebooks represent a far larger opportunity for cannibalization than the Mac, which holds less than a 10% market share […] Clearly, the business market, including healthcare, is not one of them because the vast majority of businesses were not buying Macs even before the introduction of the iPad […] We would argue that iPad sales in this segment are purely incremental. One segment where the Mac as well as Windows PCs look susceptible to cannibalization is the education market, especially K-12 […] The March shipment data paints an inconclusive picture. Mac sales in the education market rose 0.5% year-over-year while total PC sales fell 0.2% […] The largest market for the iPad is undoubtedly the home market. In this segment, we would argue the Mac is susceptible to cannibalization among consumers who use their PCs purely as consumption devices to access the Web, send and receive emails and watch video. The Mac would not be susceptible to cannibalization for users who also use their PCs as productivity devices. But this could be changing. Reportedly, Microsoft will introduce a version of its Office productivity software suite for the iPad before year end.