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Why Apple isn't shipping 8 million MacBook Airs this summer

updated 01:15 pm EDT, Sat June 25, 2011

Deconstructing a bad leak of MacBook Air shipments

A rumor floated on Friday claimed that Apple would be shipping no less than eight million new MacBook Air systems in the summer. It also alleged that four million Airs will have shipped in the spring. Unfortunately, that's just not true, and we'll show why -- along with what Digitimes likely actually meant.

As most who pay attention to Apple's numbers will tell you, the company shipped 3.76 million Macs, of any kind, in the winter. For Apple to have shipped four million MacBook Airs in 2011, it would have outshipped its entire Mac mix with just one model in just one quarter; eight million in the summer would have Apple doubling its entire Mac share in half a year with one notebook. Apple has been growing where the Windows PC business has been shrinking, but even optimistic targets wouldn't go that far.

For reference, IDC first-quarter estimates show that with eight million MacBook Airs, Apple would instantly become at least the fourth largest computer builder in the world.

Moreover, the leak itself contradicts those expectations. Its projections have a raised forecast of 15 million MacBooks of all variants in 2011. Even another optimistic (and unrealistic) look, suggesting that Apple will have shipped 2.4 million MacBooks in June and 2.8 million in July, wouldn't see Apple moving that many of one computer so soon.

What prompted the error, then? Assuming any truth exists in the rumor to begin with, we believe the authors may literally have misplaced a zero. Apple is far more likely to have shipped 400,000 MacBook Air systems in the spring and to be stepping that up to 800,000 in the summer. The current generation is far more popular than the older version owing to the $999 price and much improved design, but it's still one piece of a strategy that's known to still lean much more on the MacBook Pro for most of its sales.

Having said this, many do expect the MacBook Air to become a more important part of Apple's lineup in this year. One Gleacher estimate suggests it could be as many as 48 percent of MacBook shipments in 2011, most of those coming later in the year. It's just that Apple's prediction of the Air becoming the "future of MacBooks" will take longer than Digitimes is predicting.


By Electronista Staff


  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 1999


    Pump and dump, Taiwan style

    Plenty of people are holding shares in Foxconn, Quanta, Asus/Pegatron, etc, so they need to 'stimulate' it a bit. After all, in Taiwan, there is a 7% up/down limit on any trading day.

  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 1999


    I would like to add a zero to my bank account...

    On the left side of the decimal point, of course.

  1. MyRightEye

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    I don't care how many they ship

    As long as at least one ships with a backlit keyboard - and it ends up in my hands.

  1. jpellino

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999



    Thats a lot of copy to refute a rumor. It's a rumor. It's automatically mostly not true.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Electronista getting deeper into the rumor biz?

    I don't recall Electronista publishing too many Apple rumors in the past. But they certainly do make for lots of web traffic. And page views are the name of the game, aren't they?

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