With recession looming consumers and businesses are tightening the purse strings. However, the temperamental market may actually be a boon to Apple, according to a number of analysts who’ve been commenting on Apple’s ability to weather the recession while the rest of the industry falters.

Why the confidence in Apple? One reason is that the company is already making gains. According to NPD data, while the PC market saw a gain of 20 per cent year-on-year in February 2008, Apple saw 60 per cent growth.

Some would argue that Apple is small fry in a big market. According to IDC, Apple’s worldwide market share grew from 2.4 per cent in 2006 to 2.9 per cent in 2007. However, talk of Apple’s market share is misleading. Market share counts all sales including enterprise, a segment Apple is not aggressively targeting. In the consumer market, where Apple does compete, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates the Mac’s share is now 10 per cent worldwide and 21 per cent in the US.

Recession, or fear of recession, should have consumers thinking twice about spending money, but when ChangeWave researchers looked at the buying plans of US consumers they found that those wishing to buy a Mac was not decreasing at the same rate as those wishing to buy a PC.

So, why are consumers prepared to splash out on a Mac even when times are hard? Well, it can’t be price – the perceived high cost of Macs would surely be a disadvantage in a recession. Maybe there’s just something about Apple and once you own an iPod there is no turning away from the Cult of Mac. A slightly more realistic reason is Apple’s presence in so many high streets. There are hundreds of stores in the US, and a pretty decent 15 here in the UK now, with more to come. It’s harder to keep the purse strings pulled tight when confronted with Apple goodies galore.