However, Apple came back strong with a refreshed lineup of MacBook Pro computers last fall, which helped the company's Mac business return to revenue and unit shipment growth, as well as market segment share gains.
In Apple's most recent quarter, the company's Mac business continued its renewed winning streak, no doubt fueled by a refresh of much of its Mac lineup at its annual World Wide Developers Conference.
Here are two things that Apple's earnings results, in tandem with comments from management on the accompanying conference call with analysts , revealed about Apple's Mac business.
Inside the numbers
Apple reported that its Mac business enjoyed revenue of nearly $5.6 billion on almost 4.3 million units shipped. Mac unit shipments were up 1% year over year, while revenue was up 7% year over year, suggesting that the company enjoyed average selling price growth .
Apple CFO Luca Maestri said that based on the company's Mac shipment numbers in the quarter, coupled with data about the overall personal computer market from research firm IDC -- a 4% decline, according to CEO Tim Cook -- the company gained personal computer market share during the quarter.
Maestri also said this performance in the Mac business was "thanks to great performance from the new MacBook Pro."
It wouldn't be surprising to learn that the MacBook Pro made up a larger mix of Apple's overall Mac business in the quarter, which helped drive Apple's Mac average selling prices up.
The lesson from Apple's multi-quarter winning streak in the Mac is simple yet powerful: Consistently refreshing a product line, particularly one that faces intense competition, is critical to good business performance.
High customer satisfaction
Another metric that Apple often talks about is customer satisfaction for its various product lines. Citing work by research firm 451 Research, Maestri said that Mac customer satisfaction "is very strong at 97%."
A high level of customer satisfaction is important for two big reasons.
First, the personal computer market relies heavily on customers replacing their old personal computers every so often. If the individuals who currently have Macs are generally satisfied with their products (97% satisfaction rate indicates such), then they're more likely to buy another Mac when the time comes to upgrade their computers.
Furthermore, those same customers may have some influence on the personal computer purchasing decisions of friends and family members. If current Mac owners are happy with their devices, then they're more likely to recommend them to these friends and family.
Then, if those customers are happy with their products, they could potentially sway their friends and family members to go with Macs. And once those individuals buy Macs, they could bring multiple generations' worth of business and influence even more individuals to buy Macs.
Assuming the data from 451 Research is representative of the customer satisfaction rate among the general Mac user population, Apple's Mac business should be in good shape.