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Apple may sell as many as 4.6 million Macs in the third quarter of 2011 thanks to "pent-up demand" for the new MacBook Air and MacBook Minis, as well as the Mac OS X "Lion," which all launched in July, according to new report by Piper Jaffray.

Apple could break Mac sales record for the third quarter, Piper reports.

"We believe August Mac sales benefited from a full month of OS X Lion along with July-refreshed MacBook Airs and Mac mini," the Sept. 12 report stated.

The MacBook Air measures a thin 0.11 inch at its thinnest point and 0.68 inch at its thickest. Both the MacBook Air and Mac Mini feature Thunderbolt I/O technology, which brings faster file transfers.

Meanwhile, the MacBook Air could account for 10 to 20 percent of Macs sold during the third quarter (or September quarter and Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter), the firm predicts.

With a possible 4.6 million Macs sold this quarter, Apple could outperform the mark of 4.1 million Macs sold during the 2010 holiday season. Still, with Mac sales growing year over year since 2003, there’s "not much" significance in exceeding last year’s sales record, Andrew Murphy, a research analyst with Piper, wrote in an email to eWEEK.

Macs priced lower than competing products, especially Ultrabooks, have led to increased sales along with iPhone and iPad users turning toward Macs, Murphy added.

The sales could drop in September as the launches fade further into the past, according Piper.

PC buyers waiting on OS X Lion, launched on July 20, gave Mac sales a boost, according to the report. OS X Lion is available as a $29 download and offers a Launchpad view of apps, a multitouch interface and a flatter-looking interface.

Mac sales are up 22 percent year-over-year, Piper Jaffray reports.

Prior to the Mac’s sales surge in the third quarter, PC sales worldwide PC shipments increased by only 2.7 percent in the second quarter of 2011, according to a Sept. 13 report by IDC. The firm had originally forecasted a 2.9 percent increase for the quarter.

"While consumers have pulled back in part due to economic circumstances, consumer PCs have also suffered due to a relative lack of compelling offerings," Jay Chou, senior research analyst, for IDC’s Worldwide PC Tracker, said in a statement.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Apple MacBooks, OS X ‘Lion’ Driving Solid Sales: Piper Jaffray