Analyst: Look for Apple to Gain Market Share in 2007

With the Intel transition complete, the Mac is poised to gain additional market share in the coming year.

With its conversion to Intel processors, the so-called "halo effect" of the iPod and the availability of the Boot Camp software, Apple Computers Macintosh will gain market share in 2007, according to one analyst.

Apple will hold about 3 percent of the worldwide PC market in the fourth quarter of 2006, and that number could rise to 4 percent by the end of 2007, according to a Dec. 13 report by Gene Munster, an analyst at Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray.

According to a recent report by IDC, Apple owned about 2.8 percent of the worldwide PC market in the third quarter of 2006. Reports by IDC and Garter of third-quarter PC sales showed Apple in the top five in U.S. sales but far behind market leaders HP and Dell both in the United States and worldwide.

In his report, Munster writes that Macs resurgence in the PC market can be traced back to four specific factors. The first is Apples conversion to Intel processors. The switch began in January, and Apple completed the change by August.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Apples new operating system, called "Leopard."

Munster also points to fact that Apple has made the Mac available to a wider audience of potential users and buyers. He writes that the popularity of the iPod music player has drawn new customers to the Mac line.

Lastly, Munster believes that Apples Boot Camp software, which allows users to run Microsofts Windows on the Mac, has helped make Apples notebooks and desktops more appealing to customers who have been traditional PC users.

When Apple announced its fourth-quarter financial results, company executives revealed that the Boot Camp software had been downloaded more than a million times.

Most of these converts and new Mac users are likely consumers and small, specialized businesses, Munster said. In another report, Munster wrote that Apple is continuing to focus on its growing consumer base and digital entertainment but not on the enterprise space.

In announcing Apples fourth-quarter earnings, Peter Oppenheimer, Apples chief financial officer, said that the company had seen an "unprecedented demand" for its Mac line in the fourth quarter, selling 1.61 million Macs—the most ever in a single quarter.

Oppenheimer and other company officials called for fiscal first-quarter profits of 70 cents to 73 cents a share and revenue of $6 billion to $6.2 billion. Wall Street estimates are calling for profits of 78 cents and revenue of $6.73 billion.

Throughout 2007, Munster said Apple should hold about 3.5 percent of the worldwide PC market, which could mean that the company could sell about 9 million Macs during the year.

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