The MacBook Air: A $2.2 Billion-a-Year "Quasi-Tablet"

Published on April 4, 2011
by John Paczkowski

With all the chatter over the iPad 2, the iPhone 4 and its successor, it’s easy to forget that Apple has another ultra-portable device that’s doing quite well at market: the MacBook Air.

Nearly six months after it launched, the device continues to be a strong seller that is quickly evolving into a meaningful growth driver for the company’s Mac business.

Apple shipped some 420,000 Airs in the fourth quarter of calendar 2010, 326.8 percent more than it did in the preceding quarter and 333 percent more than it did in the quarter a year ago. And, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz, that growth was not an anomaly, but the beginning of a trend.

With it’s instant-on capability and diminutive size, the Air has evolved into “a quasi-tablet” device for the productivity user, potentially defining a new category, says Moskowitz. And in the process it’s helping to cement Apple’s leadership in ultra-portable devices.

“While still representing a small percentage today, we expect the MacBook Air to become an integral part of the Mac business over time,” Moskowitz writes. “C4Q10 was the first quarter in which the MacBook Air accounted for greater than 10 percent of total Apple PC units. More importantly, the MacBook Air accounted for 15 percent of total notebook unit sales during the quarter, versus 5 percent in the prior year. Even with the MacBook Air’s strong performance in C4Q10, it represented only roughly 5 percent of total Apple Mac units and revenues for C2010. We see ample opportunity for this percentage to increase over time, given the improved tech specs and more attractive pricing of the second-generation MacBook Air.”

And if Apple can sustain a quarterly run rate of 420,000 units and keep pricing stable, annual MacBook Air revenues could hit to $2.2 billion or better.

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