Snow Leopard sales off to a roaring start

Despite catching some flack for its camera-less iPod Touch, Apple might take solace in the fact that sales of Snow Leopard have been through the roof, vastly exceeding sales of every major OS X release that preceded it.

Despite catching some flack for its camera-less iPod Touch, Apple might take solace in the fact that sales of Snow Leopard have been through the roof, vastly exceeding sales of every major OS X release that preceded it.

According to market data released by the research firm NPD, initial sales of Snow Leopard are already double what OS X Leopard sales were when that was released in 2007, and amazingly, four times higher than initial sales of OS X Tiger which was released in 2005.

Obviously, honest comparisons between the varying OS X releases aren't exactly possible since Snow Leopard sells for the much more affordable price of $29 while copies of Tiger and Leopard originally retailed for $129 when first released.

In a press release issued last week, Stephen Baker of NPD stated:

Even though some considered Snow Leopard to be less feature-focused than the releases of Leopard or Tiger, the ease of upgrading to Snow Leopard and the affordable pricing made it a win-win for Apple computer owners - thus helping to push sales to record numbers.

And even more impressive is the fact that sales of Snow Leopard haven't dropped off to the same degree that previous OS X releases have. NPD's data shows that after the large volume purchases of Snow Leopard died down, sales only dropped down 25% from week 1 to week 2.  In contrast, sales of both Tiger and Leopard dropped down by more than 60% from week 1 to week 2 of it first going on sale. 

Also contributing to impressive Snow Leopard sales is the simple fact that the installed Mac user base is significantly larger than it was a few years ago.  With every passing earnings conference call, it seems that Apple is consistently reporting record numbers of Mac sales.

Specifically, Apple sold 9.715 million Macs in 2008, 7 million Macs in 2007, and 4.75 million Macs in 2005.  While not every one of those sales is to a new Mac user, a good percentage of them certainly are, and as Apple continues to grow the number of overall Mac users, sales of Mac software will undoubtedly increase accordingly.

Given the cheap price point of Snow Leopard, and the growing number of Mac users, you may think that Snow Leopard was bound to be a hit, but with no new marketable features to advertise, some speculated that Snow Leopard might not garner impressive sales.  Indeed, most of Snow Leopard's more intriguing features center on system performance and revolve around things the end user will never see.  Apple itself touts Snow Leopard as being a "better Leopard", and hasn't taken steps to differentiate it much from its predecessor.  Still, the core OS improvements in Snow Leopard, coupled with a low cost of entry, have made Snow Leopard an undeniable hit for Apple.

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