How Many Gaming Macs Did Apple Sell Last Quarter?

Posted by: Matt Vella on January 20

product-heroApple (AAPL) is scheduled to release its first quarter results for fiscal year ‘08 on Jan 22. Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner is expecting a rally in Apple shares partly based on sales of 2.4 million computers — a 49% year-over-year gain — driven by “very strong flat panel iMac demand.” Ahead of the earnings and the recent MacWorld, I asked a group of innovators, new drool-worthy ultra-thin MacBooks and slick media devices aside, what should the Cupertino company look into next? As background, I talked quickly with Epic Games VP Mark Rein about what Steve Jobs could do to bolster gaming on the platform. “I’d love to see the higher end chips,” he said, “making sure that all the Macs except maybe the Mini have really good graphics cards.”

Apple’s position as a gaming platform has, likely, never been stronger. The switch to Intel processors in 2005/2006 and the company’s Boot Camp software created instant compatibility where none was previously possible. And, Electronic Arts (ERTS) is pushing an aggressive simultaneous Mac and PC release schedule for some of its biggest games. Still, Rein says Apple could further broaden the game-capable Mac user base, by putting more powerful chips in its MacBook line of laptops for instance — including the new ultra-portable. “I could see game developers generally getting very excited about that,” says Rein.

Epic, he noted, has long supported the Mac — regardless of chips inside. In fact, Tim Sweeney, who founded the North Carolina-based maker of Unreal Tournament and Gears of War, started programming on an Apple II. “We’re all rooting for Apple,” Rein added before praising the current crop of MacBook Pros.

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No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.

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