FORTUNE -- For a company like Apple (AAPL) that is supposed to be a growth stock, the flattening bar graph at right might seem like a disappointment -- unless you consider the alternative, represented by the chart at left.
According to IDC's grim report Thursday, PC sales were down worldwide by 14% year over year, the worst fall-off on record and the fourth straight quarter of declines. Gartner's estimate wasn't much better: it measured a decline of 11.2%, the worst drop it's seen since 2001.
Both firms attributed the shrinkage at least in part to the disruption caused by the growing popularity of Apple's iPad and its imitators.
In that context, the estimates of Mac sales that have come in so far from 57 Apple analysts -- 34 professionals and 23 amateurs -- look quite cheery.
The median estimate -- 4.1 million Macs -- is 2% higher than the 4.017 million Apple sold in the same quarter last year.
The high estimate of 4.61 million Macs -- offered in January by J.P. Morgan's Mark Moskowitz -- would represent 14.7% growth.
The low estimate, ironically, comes from Topeka's Brian White, whose price target for Apple is a Street-high $888. He's calling for Mac sales of 3.19 million units, down 20.7% from last year.
We'll find out who is closest to the mark when Apple reports its fiscal Q2 2013 earnings on April 23.
Below: The individual analyst's estimates -- pros in blue, independents in green. Thanks once again to Posts at Eventide's Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.
Talking Apple (AAPL) with The Unofficial Apple Weblog's Mike Rose on the floor of San Francisco's Moscone West. The interview lasts about 15 minutes.
For the rest of TUAW's live coverage of Macworld 2011, click here.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]Philip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 28, 2011 9:18 PM ET
|Michaels hack hit 3 million|
|GM's recalled Cobalt was a failure from the start|
|Detroit pension cuts hit civilian workers hardest|
|Obama would cut deficits by another $1 trillion|
|Judge won't force GM owners to 'park' cars|