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Apple Mac Market Growing Faster Than PCs

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) Mac products, boosted by stellar enterprise sales, are increasing the pressure on PCs running Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) Windows software, according to Needham & Company analyst Charles Wolf.

"Notwithstanding its premium prices compared with Windows PCs, the Mac should continue to grow faster than the PC market, propelled by the halo effects now emanating from the iPod, iPhone and iPad," he wrote in a note released on Tuesday.

Apple's booming Mac sales are increasing the pressure on PCs, according to Needham analyst Charles Wolf.

The consumer tech giant sold a record 4.13 million Macs during its recent fiscal first quarter, highlighting the technology's booming popularity. "At 23.5%, Mac shipment growth in December was a multiple of the PC market's growth rate of just 3.4%," added Wolf.

The analyst explained that that, just as the iPod and iPhone helped lure consumers onto the Mac platform in recent years, so the iPad is continuing this trend among enterprises. "The surge in Mac sales in the business market coincided with the introduction of the iPad in the second quarter of 2010," he said. "In less than a year, the iPad has been deployed or piloted in 80 of the Fortune 100 companies, and it's reasonable to assume the device has invaded smaller businesses at a similar pace."

Apple has already sold more than 14.77 million iPads, and is expected to sell almost double that number in 2011.

"The halo effect emanating from the iPad will be far stronger than the iPhone halo effect in the business market if only because the iPad is a kissing cousin of Apple's family of notebook computers," wrote Wolf. The Mac, he added, should continue to gain share from PCs, aided by the preponderance of Apple Stores.

Apple also launched its Mac App Store earlier this year, intending to emulate the success of its App Store for iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. The move was seen as an additional challenge for Microsoft's PC software business.

There has already been talk of a decelerating PC market, with Goldman Sachs (GS) recently lowering its 2011 PC forecast. Technology research firm Gartner also noted that worldwide PC shipments grew just 3.1% year over year during the fourth quarter of 2010, as tablets and gaming devices gain in popularity. Gartner had originally forecast fourth-quarter growth of 4.8%.

Bucking the trend somewhat is No. 2 PC maker Dell (DELL - Get Report), which saw its revenue from commercial laptop and desktop computers increase 10% year-over-year in its fourth-quarter results, released after market close on Tuesday. PC share leader HP (HPQ - Get Report) reports its first-quarter results next week.

Apple shares rose $4.54, or 1.26%, to $364.44 on Wednesday.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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