Estimates from the analysts we polled range from 3.34 million to 3.87 million
Apple's (aapl) computer line celebrated a unusually merry Christmas in its first fiscal quarter of 2011, selling more than 4 million Macs for the first time it its history.
In what was a difficult quarter for the rest of the PC industry, Mac unit sales were up 23% year over year.
None of the 43 analysts we polled -- professional or amateur -- think Apple sold more than 4 million Macs in the quarter that ended two weeks ago. But as a group they expect unit sales grew even faster -- nearly 24% year over year.
The high estimate of 3.865 million -- submitted by both Traderhood's Nicolae Mihalache and Apple's Gold's Dennis Hildebrand -- represents more than 31% growth year over year.
The low estimate, 3.34 million from Pacific Crest's Andy Hargreaves, is 13.4% more Macs than the 2.94 million Apple sold the same quarter last year.
We've used the average of the 43 estimates, 3.64 million units in the chart above.
Below: The Q2 2011 Mac unit sales numbers we've gathered so far. We've included each analyst's ranking from the previous quarter's earnings smackdown. The lower the number, the more accurate their estimate.
Further below: A chart of the breakdown between desktop and laptop unit sales over the past three years. You can see at a glance how important to Apple the MacBook line has become.
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|Analyst, affiliation||Macs (millions of units)||Date of est.||Q1 rank|
|Nicolae Mihalache, Traderhood||3.87||3/27/11||4|
|Dennis Hildebrand, Apple's Gold||3.87||3/26/11||8|
|Mark Moskowitz, J.P. Morgan||3.85||3/25/11||15|
|Robert Cihra, Caris||3.85||3/25/11||NA|
|Brian Marshall, Gleacher & Co.||3.84||3/3/11||19|
|Bill Shope, Goldman Sachs||3.83||3/25/11||12|
|Andy Zaky, Bullish Cross||3.80||3/31/11||5|
|Turley Muller, Financial Alchemist||3.77||3/23/11||2|
|Adam Thompson, Apple Finance Board||3.75||3/22/11||NA|
|Alexis Cabot, Apple Finance Board||3.74||3/30/11||3|
|Chas McKenna, Apple Finance Board||3.74||3/27/11||NA|
|Matthew Hoffman, Cowen & Co.||3.72||1/19/11||23|
|Jeff Fosberg, Apple Finance Board||3.72||3/27/11||9|
|Brian White, Ticonderoga||3.71||3/28/11||38|
|Shaw Wu, Sterne Agee||3.70||3/30/11||27|
|Peter Misek, Jeffries||3.70||3/30/11||NA|
|Steven Fox, CLSA||3.70||3/29/11||NA|
|Daniel Ernst, Hudson Square||3.70||1/19/11||28|
|Richard Gardner, Citigroup||3.70||3/25/11||18|
|Rajesh Ghai, Think Equity||3.69||3/25/11||39|
|Hendi Susanto, Gabelli & Co.||3.66||3/25/11||NA|
|Patrick Smellie, Apple Finance Board||3.65||3/25/11||1|
|Charlie Wolf, Needham||3.65||3/29/11||41|
|Kathryn Huberty, Morgan Stanley||3.65||3/25/11||36|
|Daniel Tello, Deagol's AAPL Model||3.65||3/21/11||6|
|Robert Paul Leitao, Posts At Eventide||3.63||3/30/11||7|
|Luke Kittell, Apple Finance Board||3.60||3/29/11||NA|
|Horace Dediu, Asymco||3.60||3/27/11||11|
|Mark Beauch, Apple Finance Board||3.60||3/29/11||NA|
|Ralph Schackart, William Blair||3.60||1/19/11||NA|
|Toni Sacconaghi, Bernstein Research||3.58||3/2/11||30|
|Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray||3.58||3/25/11||33|
|Chris Whitmore, Deutsche Bank||3.52||4/5/11||13|
|Tavis McCourt, Morgan Keegan||3.50||3/25/11||35|
|Maynard Um, UBS||3.50||3/28/11||37|
|T. Michael Walkley, Canaccord Genuity||3.50||3/28/11||29|
|Jeff Fidacaro, Susquehanna||3.47||3/25/11||31|
|Yair Reiner, Oppenheimer||3.47||3/2/11||10|
|William Power, Baird||3.46||1/19/11||34|
|Scott Craig, Merrill Lynch||3.45||3/21/11||16|
|William Fearnley, Janney Capital||3.40||1/19/11||26|
|Scott Sutherland, Wedbush||3.38||3/3/11||NA|
|Andy Hargreaves, Pacific Crest||3.34||3/30/11||NA|
Also on Fortune.com:
- Mac zigs while the PC market zags
- Did Apple sell 4 million Macs in Q4?
- How many iPads has Apple really sold?
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]