According to research firm IDC, the market for personal computers slumped 4.5% year over year, beating out its previous estimates of a 7.4% decline. Interestingly, as the overall market outperformed expectations, PC maker Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) actually saw its market segment share shrink year over year from 7.4% to 7.1% during the second quarter of the year.
Independent technology analyst Kurt Marko offered a succinct and, in my view, likely accurate view of why Apple may have ceded share to other personal computer makers:
What happens when you don't update your PC lineup for a couple years: Apple's PC Sales Fall Behind ASUS https://t.co/FReQ5UiAtQ— Kurt Marko (@krmarko) July 12, 2016
Although Apple has made some incremental improvements to its core MacBook Pro and MacBook Air product lines over the last two years, Marko's comment is fundamentally on point -- Apple hasn't released substantial updates to these products in a long time.
The bad news is that this kind of neglect of a core market is not the sort of behavior that investors should expect from one of the world's largest and most successful technologies companies; it's what one would expect from a company that's currently strapped for cash and can't afford to invest in newer, better products.
The good news, though, is that Apple seems to be on the verge of a long-awaited refresh of its MacBook lines, which could help to catalyze sales and, ultimately, recapture lost market share.
Major overhaul to the MacBook coming, per KGI
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities (via 9to5Mac) said back in May that new MacBook Pros are coming in the fourth quarter of 2016. These new MacBook Pros aren't expected to just be minor spec bumps of the current models, but instead fundamental redesigns of the computers.
Kuo claims that the new machines will, in typical Apple fashion, see reductions in weight as well as thickness. They will also reportedly come with Touch ID capability (something my former Foolish colleague Evan Niu mused about in an article published back in January of last year), an OLED touch bar to replace the physical function keys on the keyboard, and support for both USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3.
Additionally, I expect that the new systems will come with new Intel processors. The 13-inch MacBook Pro should see a one-generation improvement in processor performance, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro should enjoy a two-generation jump in processor performance.
Beyond those features, it's probably time for Apple to adopt new display panels on the new MacBook Pro systems. Apple has transitioned its iMacs and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro to displays that can display the DCI-P3 color space, a wider space than the sRGB color space that current MacBook Pro displays target. I fully expect to see wider color gamut displays on the next 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models.
The new MacBooks should help boost share
It seems reasonable to expect that newly refreshed MacBooks will help Apple regain share in the broader PC market. However, what Apple needs to do going forward is to not let its Mac lineup get as stale as it did with its current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro line of systems.
On Apple's most recent earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said that the company is "confident" in Apple's Mac business and in the company's "ability to continue to innovate and gain share in that area."
We'll see if this view is justified as the next couple of Mac product cycles play out.