Apple plans to open up to ten more brick-and-mortar retail stores outside the US this calendar year, the company confirmed last night.

Apple's financial call reveals plans for 40 new stores this year, of which "little more than 30" will be in the US, the company said.

Confirming that the switch to Mac has begun, company chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said that 50 per cent of the Macs sold inside Apple retail stores "went to new users".

Half a million Mac switchers

Business Week points out that this equates to 77,000 Mac sales to customers who have never owned a Mac before - and warns that this could equate to almost half a million new Mac users this year through retail store sales alone.

Given the pent-up demand as Mac users wait for Intel Macs before they upgrade, Business Week speculates: "This all adds up to the potential for a pretty healthy year in Mac sales - to switchers and Mac devotees alike.

Oppenheimer informed that 18.1 million visitors popped in to an Apple store during the last quarter. With an average of 138 stores open in any given week of the period, this equates to 10,000 customer visits per store per week, Oppenheimer said.

The new Creative section of the stores is also gaining traction, he observed, with 50,000 sessions of personal one-on-one training taking place in stores during the 13-week quarter.

Revenue strong though slowdown clear

Revenue reached $636 million for an average take of $4.6 million per store, he added. Apple sold 154,000 Macs through its stores.

These figures are down slightly from the traditionally very busy Christmas quarter when Apple's retail segment sold 193,000 Macs for revenue of $1,072 million.

In the year-ago quarter, Apple's financial data shows 144,000 Mac sales for $571 million revenue.

The company cited the difference between seasonal shopping patterns over the Christmas period, the 13-week quarter that made up Q2 (14-weeks in the Christmas quarter) and some delay within the quarter before some products shipped, such as the MacBook Pro as reasons for the slowdown.

Hitting the Mac migration switch

The company also stressed that it used its chain of retail stores to help evangelise the message of its migration to Intel processors.

"Retail stores are really focusing on the transition to Intel," Apple executives agreed. "Immediately on our announcement of the transition at Macworld we changed our in-store graphics," they said.

"You'll notice that our retail sales teams were not discouraged from advising customers to wait for Intel Macs if that was the best thing for the customer," Oppenheimer said.

"We are extremely happy at how well the Intel transition is going. We are confident in how our strategy to innovate in our product line is going, and we are very excited about the products we plan to introduce in future," he added.