Sales of notebook computers during the back-to-school rush this year beat expectations, new data from market research firm NPD Group found. While sales of Windows laptops continued to slide compared to last year, the decline was significantly less severe than in the first half of the year according to NPD. Windows notebook sales between July and August dipped 4% compared to the same period in 2010, while sales in the first half of 2011 were down 12% year-over-year. “The sequential results from NPD’s back-to-school point-of-sale (POS) data indicates that after a shortfall early in the year that was mostly related to the difficult comparisons to the binge of buying after the release of Windows 7, the Windows notebook market remains solid,” said NPD vice president of industry analysis Stephen Baker in a statement. “The last two weeks of August are the most important period for back to school buying, and those weeks saw more than an 8 percent increase over last year in retail sales.” NPD’s full press release follows below. More →
Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry sent an investor note out on Wednesday warning that a weak back-to-school season caused last weekend’s Mac sales to slump between 35% and 40% from the weekend of July 23rd. It was “probably one of the slowest weekends for Mac sales,” Chowdhry said, suggesting that higher gas prices could be responsible for the decline. Chowdhry surveyed four different university book stores for his data, which doesn’t sound like a large enough sample pool to us, and employees in the stores said slower sales were likely due to summer break. Chowdhry thinks Apple could attract more customers by offering $100 refunds in the form of cash instead of in App Store gift cards. Not all analysts agree, of course: according to CultofMac, UBS analyst Maynard Um recently reported that the Mac “continues to be the most popular among consumers and students heading back to school.” More →
AT&T on Tuesday announced that it will launch the HP TouchPad 4G with a faster 1.5GHz processor (the original launched with a 1.2GHz chip). We recently reviewed a Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet and said we “prefer it almost every other tablet [we've] tested to date,” but did note the TouchPad has a number of drawbacks and, in its current state, is just “good.” The webOS-powered TouchPad 4G will offer 32GB of storage, a 9.7-inch display with a 1024 x 768 resolution, and support for AT&T’s HSPA+ network. AT&T hasn’t provided pricing details or a release date yet, but the carrier did confirm that the tablet will launch in time for the back-to-school season. Read on for the full press release. More →
It’s certainly not going to knock any socks off this year, but Apple has finally kicked off its annual back to school sale. A day behind schedule, Apple on Thursday announced that students making qualifying Mac purchases will receive a complimentary $100 iTunes gift card. The offer applies to college students and those accepted into college, and any MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac or Mac Pro purchase will qualify for the gift card. Apple’s promotion this year offers less than half the back-for-your-buck compared to past promotions that offered a free iPod touch with each purchase, but $100 toward software for your new Mac computer on top of a 10% student discount still makes for a decent deal. Apple’s offer runs from now through September 20th, so students have more than enough time to wait for that imminent MacBook Air refresh we’ve all been expecting. More →
One of our Apple sources has informed us that they’ve been hearing Apple’s yearly back-to-school special will be announced at WWDC next month. We have been told Apple will continue to offer educational discounts on computers and either a free iPod touch, or $229 towards the purchase of any other iPod. Our source also let us know that there might be something new in the works, as well… they heard that it’s possible Apple might offer students up to $200 off an iPad with the purchase of a new Mac. If true, this would be pretty great deal. If only Apple could make enough of them…
Thanks, Lindsey S.!
Microsoft on Thursday revealed its back-to-school offer for 2011, which is likely to drop students’ jaws and raise parents’ eyebrows at the same time. This year, students with a valid student ID who purchase a Windows 7 computer for $699 or more will receive a free Xbox 360 4GB video game console. “A hot new Windows 7-based PC with a free Xbox 360 is the ultimate productivity, social and entertainment package for students,” said Kathleen Hall, general manager of Windows Marketing at Microsoft, in a statement. “In one shot, with this great offer, Microsoft is giving students everything they need for a successful new school year.” We’re not sure how much the Xbox offer will help students with their school work, but it will definitely help them blow off some steam and avoid burning out while still managing to save them some money. The deal becomes available to students starting this Sunday, May 22nd. Hit the break for Microsoft’s full press release.
On Tuesday, Sony took the wraps off of two new Android tablets, the S1 and the S2, but two other devices — the “Freestyle Hybrid PC” and the “Ultimate Mobile PC” — were also teased by Sony execs during its IT Mobile Meeting in Tokyo. Sony’s keeping the specs for both devices close to the vest for now, but the Freestyle Hybrid PC offers a tablet form factor with a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard that doubles as a stand. Sony’s Ultimate Mobile PC appears to be a new thin and light laptop with HDMI-out, but its screen size and other specs remain unknown. We wouldn’t be surprised to see both of these devices break cover in time for the back to school season. More →
American Eagle announced on Wednesday that it is launching a new back-to-school promotion that will give a free smartphone to everyone who tries on a pair of jeans. Customers exiting the fitting rooms will receive a card with instructions on how to select a carrier and claim a free phone which, of course, requires a two-year agreement. Forty phones, which unfortunately are not listed, are available as part of the promotion and include both Android and BlackBerry offerings. If you purchase a phone through this promotion, American Eagle will sweeten the pot by including a bonus $25 gift card with every phone order. The promotion starts on July 21st and runs until August 3rd. Anyone interested?
Thanks, Matthew! More →
Despite the fact that there’s still plenty of Summer left to be enjoyed, companies just love reminding students that another semester/school year is waiting around the corner. Sure back-to-school deals are nice but it might have been nicer to keep school out of sight, out of mind for a bit longer. The most recent Summer buzzkill notable promotion comes by way of Alltel and is available to the 91 divested markets not controlled by Verizon Wireless. In Alltel’s words: “New and existing Alltel Wireless customers with “My Circle” plans, Smart Choice Packs, and Bundled Wireless Internet plans can add up to four lines to their primary account, with a $25 activation fee per line, and receive three months of free service on those new lines.” So parents, if you’re finally getting around to adding a few new lines for your rugrats this is definitely a nice little perk to sweeten the deal. Alltel’s back-to-school promo runs now through September 10th — more than enough time to mull it over.
[Via Phone Scoop]