FORTUNE -- Compared with Apple's (AAPL) iOS devices -- the iPhone and the iPad -- the Mac is a turtle. Slow and steady has characterized its growth rate since the launch of the iPhone -- an average of 26% year over year for the past five years.
This time, with no new Mac introductions to boost sales in the quarter that just ended, analysts across the board are expecting growth rates closer to 20%.
In fact, in this category it's hard to tell the Wall Street analysts from the amateurs.
The average estimate among the 51 analysts we polled for this report was 4.54 million, 20.7% higher than the 3.76 million sold in the same quarter last year.
One the low end, nine of them -- six professionals and three independents -- submitted estimates of 4.3 million, a growth rate of 14.4%
The top estimate of 4.85 million, submitted by a pair of independent analysts, Navin Nagrani and Daniel ("Deagol") Tello, corresponds to a growth rate of 29%.
The consensus among the six best analysts with the best track record over the past five quarters was that Mac sales grew 23.3% year over year to reach 4.64 million.
We'll find out who was closest to the mark when Apple reports its earnings after the markets close next Tuesday, April 24.
Below the fold: The analysts' individual estimates, with the pros in blue and the amateurs in green.
But an amateur -- a Romanian mathematician teaching in Paris -- nailed the numbers
This story never gets old.
An army of Wall Street analysts, backed by the computing power of some of the world's richest banks and brokerage houses, have once again been out-foxed and out-analyzed by rag-tag bunch of bloggers, amateurs and independent investors.
A glance at the chart at right, which lists the 48 analysts we polled in advance of MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 20, 2011 4:19 AM ET
Mean analyst estimate: 7.9 million. The amateurs, as usual, are more bullish than the pros
Apple (AAPL) is scheduled to report its fiscal third quarter earnings on July 19, a week from today, and in preparation for our quarterly earnings smackdown we've been gathering estimates from the small army of analysts -- profession and amateur -- who follow the company.
The biggest mystery this quarter -- and the biggest discrepancy in unit MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 12, 2011 6:15 AM ET
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