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Analysts: iMac to take over 25% of PC sales, Mac to see 31% growth

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We're only days away from the release of the iPad, and that means analysts are doing crazy business -- they're laying out as many predictions as they can before theory becomes actual numbers. Our friend Gene Munster is first -- he says that despite the introduction of a brand new category, Mac sales will be even better than investors expect this quarter, with a whopping 26% to 31% year-over-year growth. Apparently retail data suggests that Macs are flying off of the shelves, and that Apple should end up with almost 3 million Macs sold in the March quarter.

PC sales in general are also expected to increase, with the iMac carrying a whole quarter of all desktop growth this year. Desktop sales are finally headed upwards for the first time in a few years, and along with bigger sales numbers in terms of netbooks and notebooks, Apple's iMac platform is leading the charge. International sales are also expected to drive the PC market -- if the numbers are right, this will be the first time ever that sales internationally take up 50% of the desktop PC market.

Interesting predictions, all. There's no question, I think, that Apple will make plenty of money this quarter. The question going forward will be whether the iPad steals sales that would have gone to the iPhone or to a MacBook. But if the past numbers with the iPhone are any indication, big interest in the portable devices actually drives Apple's desktop sales as well.

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