Apple's decision to cut prices across its MacBook lineup is about to be validated, according to an analyst's estimate.
After several months of declining Mac sales compared against 2008 numbers, Apple looks to be back on track with its June Mac shipments, says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. His firm initially estimated that Apple would sell 2.2 million Macs during its third quarter of 2009, which ended in June. Munster now says he's "increasingly confident" in that report because Apple is having trouble keeping its new 13-inch MacBook Pro in stock.
The 13-inch MacBook was rechristened the 13-inch MacBook Pro at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 8, and at the same time, Apple lowered the price of its Mac notebook lineup, bringing the cost of the cheapest MacBook Pro, the 13-inch model, to $1,199.
Either because Apple didn't plan well enough, or customers were encouraged by the price, Apple's Web site shows that it's now a 7- to 10-day delay to order one of the 13-inch MacBook Pro configurations.
"We track product lead-times and our records show that Apple has never had a 7-10 day delay on its most popular 13" model, with the most recent significant delay being 5-7 days over 2 years ago in 9/08," Munster wrote in a research note Monday evening. "We see this as a sign that demand is outpacing the company's build expectations, and it may take several weeks to reach a supply demand equilibrium."
Some brick-and-mortar Apple stores were also showing shortages of the same model, he reports.
That's encouraging news for Apple, which up until June had seen its Mac sales slowly slide, albeit more gently than the rest of the PC industry. Apple desktops and laptop sales dropped in February and April, by about 1.8 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Munster now says he believes once June sales are tallied, Macs will have actually increased 1 percent for the third quarter.
We'll know for sure in two weeks. Apple is set to report its third quarter 2009 earnings on July 21.