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Apple, Inc. Barely Grew Mac Market Share Last Quarter

The new MacBook Pro appears to have only slightly helped Apple's Mac unit shipments. Image source: Apple.

The iPhone wasn't the only Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) product to stall in 2016. The Mac has certainly seen better days, too, and the Mac maker lost global PC market share throughout much of 2016. Well, market researcher IDC has just released its latest estimates on the global PC market for the fourth quarter, and there's a little bit of good news for Apple investors. According to the estimates, Apple might have barely notched a gain in its global PC market share.

A total of 70.2 million PCs were shipped in the fourth quarter, representing a year-over-year decline of 1.5%. Apple shipped roughly 5.3 million Macs by IDC's count, which represents a decline of just 0.9%. That's technically enough to earn Apple a tiny bit more market share, performing slightly better than the broader market.

Breaking the trend

According to IDC's quarterly estimates, Apple underperformed the PC market in Q2 and Q3, so outperforming the PC market in Q4, however slight, still breaks the negative trend.

Quarter Apple Change (YOY) Worldwide PC Market Change (YOY)
Q1 2016 (2.1%) (11.5%)
Q2 2016 (8.3%) (4.5%)
Q3 2016 (13%) (3.9%)
Q4 2016 (0.9%) (1.5%)

Data source: IDC.

However, it's worth noting that IDC's estimates don't always line up with the actual volumes that Apple reports. In fact, Apple's official figures are worse than IDC's for the first three quarters of 2016 (Q4 results will be released later this month). The company saw Mac units fall by 11.6% in the first quarter, so Apple actually lost share for the first three quarters of the year.

This marks the fifth consecutive year that the global PC market has contracted. For the full year, there were an estimated 260.2 million PCs shipped worldwide, down 5.7% from 2015. Rivals like HP and Dell fared well, growing by 1.3% and 4.3% respectively.

Back to the Mac

Apple has seemingly recovered slightly in the fourth quarter, which is also when it launched its controversial new MacBook Pro. On one hand, the new notebook suffered from supply constraints throughout most of the quarter. Many customers that placed orders early still didn't receive their products until December. It's challenging to fully gauge demand when suffering from supply constraints.

More broadly, Apple has received some deserved criticism over its continued neglect of the Mac, despite recent comments from CEO Tim Cook that Apple is "very committed" to the Mac and that "great desktops" are in the pipeline. Even Apple's former ad man Ken Segall is boggled by what is taking the company so long to update its lineup.

For the longest time, Apple disregarded traditional resource allocation methodologies, simply focusing on building great products and trusting that the financials will take care of themselves. But it seems that under Cook the company may be implementing traditional resource allocation methodologies, where the most important products (iOS devices) get the most attention. It doesn't matter if this is a conscious decision or an inadvertent one -- Mac development is clearly suffering . As long as the Mac remains second-class relative to the iPhone, investors can continue to expect market share losses.

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Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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