How Should Investors Feel About Stagnant Mac Sales?

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Could we see a cheaper iPhone 5?

Sales of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) mac computers in North America stayed the same, year-over-year, in terms of units sold for the month of April, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster wrote in a letter to investors. The news, says Munster, is “neutral to slightly positive as we maintain our down 5 percent year-over-year Mac expectation for June.”

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Barron’s reports that it is difficult to quantify the importance of Mac sales for Apple earnings for a number of reasons. Most notable are the inaccurate reports by the NPD group, whose predictions were more than 10 percentage points off on Apple’s worldwide numbers in three of the last five months. Additionally, the iPhone and iPad are eating at Mac computer sales, although Munster believes that a new MacBook pro model — equipped with Intel’s (NASDAQ:INTC) latest Haswell processors — will be announced at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Despite the new MacBook’s expected release, Munster still believes the majority of Apple’s revenue will come from the smartphone and tablet business. One strong factor in this prediction, Munster believes, will be the introduction of a low-cost iPhone. The cheaper iPhone has been a strong rumor for months, and new competitors like Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Lumia have announced they will be joining the ranks of low-end smartphones. A cheaper iPhone would undoubtedly help Apple take market share from the likes of Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy series, offered as low as $49.99, which has partnered with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to offer their more expensive Galaxy models, though not with a cheaper version yet.

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One thing Apple doesn’t want to do is have potential buyers of their current, more expensive iPhone purchase the cheaper iPhone instead. This will undoubtedly be something their analysts look over carefully, if and when they decide to release one. Most pundits believe a cheaper iPhone will only benefit Apple, but making cheap brands has never been their status quo.

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