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applemacApple will report its quarterly earnings Tuesday afternoon, providing the latest glimpse into the sales of the company’s main iPhone, iPad and Mac product lines. One underlying question: How much will the iPad cut into Mac sales?

ML_iMac_PRINTThe shift in consumer spending toward the iPad and other tablets has been the big story in the market for traditional Windows PCs over the past couple of weeks, with IDC recently reporting a 14 percent decline in the worldwide PC market in the first quarter. However, the firm also noted that Apple’s own computers haven’t been immune to the trend.

IDC shows Apple’s shipments in the U.S. slipping by 7.5 percent, to 1.4 million units. That was better than the 12.7 percent decline in overall PC shipments in the U.S. for the quarter. Even with the smaller-than-average decline, IDC noted that Apple’s Macs “also face competition from iPads.”

Apple has been aiming to counter this trend with the tighter integration of OS X and iOS across the Mac, iPhone and iPad, using services including iCloud and Messages. Still, Apple executives have acknowledged that the Mac does face some cannibalization from tablets. Mac unit sales were down 22 percent in the fourth calendar quarter (Q1 of FY13 in this Apple chart) due in part to supply issues.

The difference for Apple, thanks to the strength of the iPad, is it’s in a position to take advantage of the shift toward tablets in the short run, while Microsoft waits for Windows 8 tablets to take hold.

Stay tuned for Apple’s results Tuesday afternoon. Here’s the IDC chart that includes estimates for Apple’s U.S. Mac shipments for the first quarter.



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