Apple Commands Almost Half of All U.S. Desktop Revenue

Nearly half of the money spent in America in the last year on desktop computers went to Macs. According to NPD, and reported this week by BetaNews, Apple’s (s aapl) October desktop PC market share was 47.71 percent, a huge increase on the previous year’s figure of 33.44 percent.

BetaNews’ Joe Wilcox writes:

It’s a stunning number, given just how many Windows PC companies combined command so much more market share, while competing for the same revenue share.

The numbers are impressive, but a little perspective goes a long way. The economy has seen sales of new computers decline, particularly in the run-up to the launch of Windows 7. Customers in search of a new computer held-back on purchases while they waited for the new OS (and the newer Windows 7-sporting machines from manufacturers) became available. And let’s not forget the state of the economy. This recession has had a significant impact on PC sales.

Stephen Baker, NPD’s vice president of industry analysis, told Wilcox:

You’re comparing the [iMac] launch month this year to the month last year when people stopped going into stores to buy things,” Baker said. “To some extent it’s a little bit apples and oranges.”

Still, it makes for great headlines, and I’m sure Apple won’t fail to wedge appropriate charts (sans actual numbers) into Steve’s next keynote presentation.

It’s worth noting that the numbers go the other way when comparing Laptops. Apple’s share of the laptop market was 34 percent in October this year, down on last year’s 38 percent. That said, laptops (Apple and otherwise) have come a long way in terms of power and price, (in 2008 it overtook desktops for the first time in global shipments) and dominating over a third of that market in North America is no small feat. It’s even more impressive than that — NPD also says that the average selling price (ASP) of Mac laptops in October this year was $1,410, more than twice the $519 ASP of Windows laptops.

Of course, there’s still the fiddly question of sustainability; now Apple has achieved these heady figures, can it keep them? The most probable answer is, no, not really. These figures are the result of unique conditions in the market (after all, global recessions and major Windows OS releases tend not to coincide, never mind on an annual basis) and it seems practical to conclude that Apple’s desktop market share is bound to decline in the next year, barring, of course, any surprising changes in that market. (Y’know, like Windows 7 inexplicably failing, or half the world’s PC manufacturers going out of business overnight… in other words, the sort of major surprises that are really, really unlikely.)

One thing you can be certain of; this time next year, as the economy strengthens and OEMs lower the prices of their no-longer-new Windows 7 machines, Apple’s share of desktop retail revenue will likely drop back to more ‘normal’ levels. And can you guess what the headlines will be when that happens?