NPD: Mac sales outgrew PCs in back-to-school season

I don't know if you've read the news lately, but the economy isn't doing too great. So, what are the odds that sales of Macs—premium machines by every definition of the term—would outgrow PC sales during this year's back-to-school shopping rush?

Pretty good, apparently. According to NPD analyst Stephen Baker, who spoke to the guys at AppleInsider this week, Apple "grew much faster than the Windows notebook market did" during the back-to-school season. That growth came in spite of the smaller discounts Apple offered students this year, not to mention the demise of the $999 MacBook (which Apple retired in July as it rolled out Mac OS X Lion and new MacBook Air laptops).

Interestingly, on the subject of the defunct MacBook, Baker commented, "I think the $999 price point for Apple is just kind of a teaser . . . The sales of those kind of products aren't always as big as the hype might be." AppleInsider says Baker pointed to the $1,199 MacBook Pro as the system consumers "tend to gravitate toward," instead, because it offers "the best value in Apple's notebook lineup." The 11.6" MacBook Air is a couple hundred bucks cheaper, but it's also smaller and less powerful.

PC vendors shouldn't be too discouraged, though. Baker said sales of Windows systems picked up in the latter half of the back-to-school season and managed to exceed expectations.

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