Estimates from the analysts we polled range from 3.34 million to 3.87 million
Apple's (AAPL) computer line celebrated a unusually merry Christmas in its first fiscal quarter of 2011, selling more than 4 million Macs for the first time it its history.
In what was a difficult quarter for the rest of the PC industry, Mac unit sales were up 23% year over year.
None of the 43 analysts we polled -- professional or amateur -- think Apple sold more than 4 million Macs in the quarter that ended two weeks ago. But as a group they expect unit sales grew even faster -- nearly 24% year over year.
The high estimate of 3.865 million -- submitted by both Traderhood's Nicolae Mihalache and Apple's Gold's Dennis Hildebrand -- represents more than 31% growth year over year.
The low estimate, 3.34 million from Pacific Crest's Andy Hargreaves, is 13.4% more Macs than the 2.94 million Apple sold the same quarter last year.
We've used the average of the 43 estimates, 3.64 million units in the chart above.
Below: The Q2 2011 Mac unit sales numbers we've gathered so far. We've included each analyst's ranking from the previous quarter's earnings smackdown. The lower the number, the more accurate their estimate.
Further below: A chart of the breakdown between desktop and laptop unit sales over the past three years. You can see at a glance how important to Apple the MacBook line has become.
Analysts estimate that Apple may have sold as many as 90 million between 2007 and 2010
Next week, when Apple (AAPL) releases its earnings for the quarter that ended Christmas Day, it will be closing the books on the era of AT&T (T) exclusivity in the U.S. -- the company's largest single market for iPhones.
It was an extraordinary run, despite all the jokes about dropped calls and flaky service. Since Apple MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 13, 2011 7:01 AM ET
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