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Wednesday, 04 March 2009 06:31

Why consumers will still buy Macs during the recession

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As numerous analysts have pointed out, desktop computers are on the way out, yet here we are in the middle of a - dare I say it - depression and Apple has just released a new range of premium priced desktop Macs. Some people might say Apple are mad to bring out new desktops at this time, but they would be mad if they didn't.

{loadposition stan}It is true that in January, Mac sales were down by 6% compared to the previous year's corresponding month. However, given that we're in one of the worst economic horror stretches in living memory that's a fantastic result.

What makes the January result even more remarkable is that it was achieved with an aging line-up of Macs that were badly in need of a refresh. Mac consumers still bought these Macs while the market was buzzing with rumours of new products on the way!

Add to all of that the fact that the world is moving away from desktops toward notebooks and more recently netbooks and the result was, as an Apple fanboi might say, simply awesome.

This is not to say Apple itself is recession-proof. iPod sales in January were down 14% year-on-year.

However, the desktop Mac is not a product that users will stop buying in a hurry because in many cases it is not a discretionary purchase and in others it is not a product of the money conscious consumer.

The Mac Pro, for example, is in the domain of the creative graphics design market. The users of this product want the latest and greatest hardware that will run the latest and greatest software that will enable them to achieve the best possible end result more quickly.

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Mac Pro users want something with a giant high resolution screen, lots of grunt and they don't skimp on their purchases. If the latest Mac Pro can help them to do their job better they'll get it.

Similarly, the iMac, with its big glossy screen, elegant design and easy to use features, is a high-end product that home (and some case office) users are not going to swap for a notebook. While many PC users are happy to downsize to a notebook or even a netbook as long as it can do the job, the iMac is a different kettle of fish altogether.

The Mac mini, admittedly, has me a little stumped. A couple of years ago rumours abounded that this little compact device would be discontinued. However, there are Mac mini owners I know personally that swear by it. One runs his whole home media centre off it.

The point of all this is that Mac users are probably the most loyal consumers of a brand in the world. They hate the alternative to a Mac, and in many cases money is not an issue when making their purchasing decision.

And for existing users who want to upgrade, if money is an issue, the Mac they already own probably has good resale value on Ebay.

We'll know more when details of February sales are released but while the PC market tanks this year and the Mac market will undoubtedly dip a bit, people will still keep buying Macs.

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Stan Beer

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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