MacBook sales drop 40% — 3 reasons why Apple suffered a poor quarter

5 ways MacBooks are just better than Windows laptops — fight me
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Apple isn't doing so hot this year, especially when it comes to Macs. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), shipments of Macs, including the MacBook Air M2, MacBook Pro 14, Mac mini, and more, took a nosedive in Q1 2023 compared to the same quarter last year. Ouch!

Keep in mind that all computer manufacturers took a hit this year. Global shipments plummeted to 56.9 million, nearly a 30% drop year-over-year. However, Apple took the biggest hit out of the top OEMs, including Lenovo, HP, Dell, and Asus. Why did Apple suffer such a painful quarter? IDC has its theories: three to be exact.

3 reasons why Mac shipments dropped in 2023

Apple suffered a 40% drop in Mac shipments in Q1 2023. As mentioned, other OEMs such as Lenovo, HP, Dell, and Asus also suffered losses year-over-year, but HP suffered the least painful blow while Apple suffered the most. The question is, why?

1. The pandemic boom is over. Between 2020 and 2021, during the peak of the pandemic, workplaces transitioned to remote work. Consequently, there was an explosion of Mac sales. Now that most consumers are settled in with their pandemic-era laptops, the demand for Macs has dissipated. 

In 2021, Apple reported a sales record for Macs, attracting a revenue of $9.2 billion, thanks to the M1 MacBook Air.

Interestingly, demand for Macs was still pretty high in 2022 compared to the pre-pandemic numbers, but now a full quarter into 2023, there's a "temporary return to pre-COVID patterns," according to the IDC. (Before COVID-19 hit, people were slow to replace their PCs and Macs compared to smartphones and other devices.)

2. There's an excess of inventory. Apple, and other laptop firms, have been struggling to sell their backlogs of inventory. This could be the reason why Apple was been offering unprecedented price cuts for laptops such as the M1 MacBook Air and the M2 MacBook Air earlier this month.

Unfortunately, this may not help Apple much. "Even with heavy discounting, channels and PC makers can expect elevated inventory to persist in the middle of the year and potentially into the third quarter," IDC said.

3. The macroeconomic climate isn't helping. Economic pundits say that the financial climate is challenging for both consumers and producers, making it difficult to sell to people who are more budget-conscious than usual. Plus, Macs tend to be pricier than competitors, so there's a good chance that the masses are opting for cheaper alternatives (like the ones you'd find among our 5 laptops that are a better value than the MacBook Air).

Bottom line

With its chips being too good, Apple may have shot itself in the foot. For example, the performance of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips is so beastly, consumers don't feel particularly compelled to upgrade.

On the other hand, Apple's gen-over-gen Mac upgrades could stand to be more alluring. Perhaps Apple's shipment drawbacks will light a fire under its butt to quit the mundane, iterative updates and unleash flashier selling points that will have the masses running to buy its Macs again. 

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Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!