Earlier this month, Michael Levin and Josh Lowitz of CIRP (Consumer Intelligence Research Partners) published a new performance report on Apple’s Mac lineup.

It should be noted that these aren’t official sales numbers from Apple, because Tim and co. never divulge anything more than by which they’re duty-bound as a public company. However, CIRP’s research does provide a compelling insight into how Apple’s products might be performing commercially.

When it comes to the Mac, the most popular computer Apple sells might surprise you. Although, so too might the performance of certain Macs which many (including yours truly) assumed were doing rather better on Tim’s spreadsheets.

Let’s dig in.

Bad news for the Mac mini and Mac Studio?

Oh dear.

Let’s turn our attention to the bottom of the table for a moment, where we discover that the Mac mini and Mac Studio grab just 1% of the Mac market share each.

Apple’s venerable headless desktops are, clearly, the black sheep of the family. This doesn’t surprise me, but it does bother me.

The Mac mini has long been loved by its tightly-defined audience, yet often given the cold shoulder by Apple. These numbers do nothing to quell my fears that we may not see another update to it following the addition of the M1 chip in 2020. Need we recall how long that computer had to wait for a proper update before the M1 announcement? It was years.

The Mac Studio’s performance isn’t quite as concerning. That is a Mac designed for a very specific audience and an audience which needs to have relatively deep pockets. It’s not quite as loveable as the Mac mini for that reason.

The beefed-up Mac mini (that’s what the Mac Studio is, after all) outguns the Intel Mac Pro in almost every regard. Spec it up with the M1 Ultra chip and max out every possible configurable option, and you end up with arguably the most powerful, capable Mac money can buy.

But that 1% share. Yikes. That won’t play well with Tim – particularly with a brand-new Mac Pro incoming (more on that in a moment).

Good news for the iMac?

Although 13% might not sound like a huge share of Mac units, it is rather pleasing to see that number against the iMac.

Given that Apple only sells the iMac in its 24-inch guise these days, I assume CIRP’s numbers refer to that model. If so, that bodes well for a much-needed spec boost this year and, possibly, even the sought-after successor to the Intel-based 27-inch version.

One can but dream.

Thirteen percent of Mac sales is still a huge statistic by anyone’s standards and it demonstrates that Apple’s class-leading all-in-one desktop is still popular with a significant audience.

Oh, HELLO, Mac Pro!

What’s this? The Mac Pro grabbing 11% of Mac unit share?

Of all the results, this one surprised me the most. When you bear in mind that the current Intel-based Mac Pro hasn’t enjoyed any meaningful spec updates since its launch in 2019, and still costs just as much as it did back then, 11% is a hell of a score.

Remember – this is a computer that has a 1.5TB memory upgrade option that adds £25,000 to the base model price.

Twenty-five grand for some RAM.

I’d forgotten just how funny the pricing for the Mac Pro is.

I’m pretty sure that very few of those top-spec machines are being sold, but there are clearly a shed load of Mac Pros shipping out in one form or another. My assumption is that large-scale productions, high-profile creatives, and top-end studios still rely on the Mac Pro, big time, and they’re clearly adding handsomely to its sales performance.

This bodes well for the rumoured 2023 Mac Pro Apple silicon update. Although reports suggest that the top ‘Bonkers Tier’ configuration has been scrapped, the ‘lesser’ Mac Pro we’re likely to see at some stage this year will probably continue this sales trend.

I don’t need a Mac Pro at all, but I cannot wait to see what happens with it this year.

The winner is…

According to CIRP’s research, the most popular current Mac is the MacBook Pro.

Boasting a 40% share of all units sold, the MacBook Pro sits above every other variant in terms of popularity with consumers – and by quite a margin.

Does that surprise you?

I’m not surprised at all. The MacBook Pro also features the most variants of those Macs listed in CIRP’s research. There are three starting points to choose from at the moment, ranging from the Touch Bar-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro to the monstrous 16-inch MacBook Pro. Add in the multitude of spec options across those three variants, and it’s easy to imagine Apple selling a metric tonne of them.

The £1,349 ($1,299) starting price for the base-model 13-inch MacBook Pro probably plays a key role in that 40% market share. It’s the cheapest MacBook available boasting the ‘Pro’ label by quite a margin and probably sells like hotcakes for that reason.

Want a MacBook Pro but have a modest budget? Buy the 13-inch version. Need to bulk buy a load of MacBook Pros for your team? Why would they need anything more than what the 13-inch has to offer?

The second most popular Mac is the one I suspect many might have thought would grab the top spot – the MacBook Air. According to CIRP, Apple’s thinnest and most coffee shop-friendly laptop grabs 34% of all Mac sales – once again, a sizeable chunk, by anyone’s definition.

It would be interesting to see what would happen to these numbers if the 13” MacBook Pro was removed from sale. Would that bump the MacBook Air into the number one position?

Final thought

Again, I must highlight that the numbers quoted in this blog post are taken from consumer research. The real numbers could be significantly different, or, indeed, bang-on with CIRP’s results.

Whatever the truth is, the Mac Pro is the only Mac whose alleged popularity surprises me.

Yet, I now have renewed hope now for the new-look iMac. I can take or leave the Mac Studio (I’ve never felt the urge to buy one) but I desperately hope the outlook for the Mac mini is better than these numbers suggest.

As for the MacBook Pro – congrats, my dependable friend!

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