Downturn takes a bite out of Apple

Sales of Apple’s Macbook computer range have begun to slow, leading many to believe the computer giant is finally being hit by the downturn.

Sales of Apple’s Macbook computer range have begun to slow, leading many to believe the computer giant is finally being hit by the downturn.

The company, which has enjoyed growing demand for its Mac, iPod and iPhone devices, is recording softening sales. Mac purchases in US stores, which make up 46% of Apple’s revenue, declined 1% last month from 12 months previously, while PC sales rose 2% according to research company NPD group.

Analysts suggest the reason for the slowdown may be in Apple’s pricing model. Not known for offering cheaper products, the group’s strategy has been marketing “high-end” computers, with the cheapest starting at $2000.

At the same time, PC prices have fallen by as much as 50%, and netbooks – smaller laptops with less power – are selling for as little as $500.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told the Wall Street Journal these cheaper options are luring customers away. “What you’re seeing in the numbers is price-sensitivity with the consumer.”

But chief executive Steve Jobs says Apple will not cut prices on its Mac line, arguing “we’re not tremendously worried” customers are being turned away. “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk,” he says.

This year has been a mixed one for the group, boosting profit from $US904 million to $US1.1 billion in the three months ending 27 September. But Apple shares have dropped 54% this year, falling from a $150 high in September to close on Monday at $94.75.

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