Apple's massive risk is already paying off. The new M1 chips, designed by Apple to replace Intel processors in its MacBook laptops, are a hit among critics and customers alike.
The new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M1 garnered glowing reviews from journalists (we gave them a 4.5 and 5-star rating, respectively), and now we know the new chips are a financial success as well. According to market research from IDC, overall PC shipments are up 55% in Q1 of 2021 while Mac sales during the first quarter boomed by 111.5%.
Digging into the numbers, IDC said Apple sold 6.6 million Macs from January to March, about double what it sold (3.3 million) in the same period last year. That increase brought Apple's share of the total PC market from 5.8% to 8%.
“There is no question when entering 2021 the backlog for PCs was extensive across business, consumer, and education,” Ryan Reith of IDC said in a press release. “The ongoing shortages in the semiconductor space only further prolong the ability for vendors to refill inventory and fulfill orders to customers. We believe a fundamental shift has occurred around the PC, which will result in a more positive outlook for years to follow.”
Reith went on to say that the growth was happening in all three segments: business, education and consumer. He predicts component shortages will be the major theme throughout 2021 but that the growth of the market could continue for the next few years.
Apple wasn't the only company to benefit from the move to remote working caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Lenovo, HP and Acer all grew their market share, although Acer dropped below Apple this year with 7% of the pie. Dell, on the other hand, shipped more units (about 23.4% more) but experienced the slowest growth and, therefore, lost considerable market share (19.4% to 15.4%).
The future looks bright for Mac
MacBook sales certainly got a boost from the ongoing pandemic and the introduction of the M1 chip, but this is only the start for Apple. The processor marks a new era for macOS computing, one where the MacBook is better integrated into the larger Apple ecosystem. And, so far, one where MacBooks outperform and outlast their PC counterparts.
Apple is now expected to launch a 16-inch MacBook Pro and 14-inch MacBook Pro with an even speedier processor that could have 12 performance cores and 16 graphics cores compared to the 8-core M1 CPU. If it does, Apple's highest-end laptops could topple just about any other laptops in day-to-day performance.
Rumors suggest Apple will launch those models in the summer or early fall. When it does, we could see yet another shakeup of the industry, one that should worry other competitors.