By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
April 1, 2008

The iPhone gets the most press and the iPod sells in the largest quantities, but it’s the Macintosh that really drives Apple’s growth, says Gene Munster.

In the second installment of a multipart report on Apple’s “3 Cylinder Engine,” Piper Jaffray’s chief Apple (AAPL) analyst looks at the Mac business over the next couple of years and likes what he sees. In particular:

  • Growth: After Apple introduced the Intel Macs, Mac sales grew 37% in 2007, more than double the industry-wide rate of 15%. Munster is modeling 2.0 to 2.1 million Macs for the March quarter (vs. the Street’s 1.95 million). He believes Apple will continue to outpace its competitors with upgraded iMacs and Mac minis in the next 3 months and redesigned MacBooks and MacBook Pros in time for the ’08 education season.
  • Market Share: According to IDC, Apple’s worldwide market share grew from 2.4% in 2006 to 2.9% in 2007. (See chart below.) Munster is conservatively modeling global market share to remain flat this year, but he notes that enterprise sales account for 70% of the worldwide market, a segment Apple is not aggressively targeting. In the consumer market, where Apple does compete, he estimates the Mac’s share is now 10% worldwide and an impressive 21% in the U.S.
  • Sales Price: While Apple has gained market share over the past three years, it has also been able to resist the industry trend of decreasing sales prices. In fact, it actually increased its average sales price (ASP) by more than $150 from December ’05 to December ’07. “The combination of increasing ASPs and rising market share is evidence of a compelling product line,” writes Munster.

One more thing: although consumers and investors tend to believe Macs cost 20% to 30% more than comparable PCs, according to Munster, he did some price comparisons and found that on average, the price difference is closer to 16% for desktop machines and 9% for laptops — essentially unchanged from a similar comparison he made two years ago. Details in the charts below the fold.

The IDC numbers:

The price comparisons:

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