Macs Gaining Significant Ground Against PCs
Narrow is the gap ‘twixt Mac and Windows machines. The narrowest since the 90s, in fact, when the Windows platform completely dominated the Mac platform. As such, the Mac has always been seen, in one way or another, as an alternative platform, a better option than the basic Windows PC. Even when Apple was pushing their “switch” ad campaign—with Justin Long acting as “Mac” and John Hodgman acting as “PC”—the numbers didn’t lie: PC was still outselling Mac by a vast majority. Now, numbers-guru Horace Dediu has put together a few handy graphs and charts, as he’s wont to do, and has found that the gap between Mac and Windows is the narrowest it’s been since the heydays of the 90s. For extra points, Dediu found that if iOS devices are included, such as the iPad, the gap gets even narrower.
According to Dediu, the IBM PC was outselling Macs by a factor of nearly 6 in 1985. Thanks to the extreme popularity of Windows 95, this gap continued to widen as nearly 10 times more customers were choosing PCs over Macs. In 2004, this gap was at its widest as 182.5 million PCs were sold compared to Mac’s 3.25 million. In other words, for every Mac sold, PC makers sold 56.
Though the numbers seemed staggering in 2004, Dediu notes that this was a turning point for Apple.
“Although PC volumes continued to grow, they did so more slowly and the Mac grew faster. What coincided with this was the emergence of portable computing. The MacBook became easily differentiable as a “better” laptop. It was not faster, did not have more storage or any key metrics being used to sell PCs. It was just better as an integrated product,” writes Dediu.
The number of Macs sold grew upon the popularity of their tightly integrated products. Though Windows machines still greatly outsell Macs—currently by a ratio of 20-to-1, Macs have continued to grow faster and gain a fair amount of leverage.
When Apple’s “Post-PC” devices are factored in, however, things begin to look a little different. While Windows machines may be a more popular choice for some, few have been able to outsell the iPhone, and no one has been able to outsell the iPad.
When the popularity of the iPad and iPhone are figured, this gap between Windows devices shrinks dramatically from 20-to-1 to an easily surpassable 2-to-1. So surpassable, says Dediu, that Apple could end up breaking even with Windows in just 2 year’s time. This corresponds with previous predictions that the iPad could overtake the PC market by 2015.
“The Mac is still growing, and I think it could still grow, but I strongly believe that the tablet market will surpass the unit sales of the PC market,” said Cook in an earnings call earlier this year. “It’s just a matter of the rate and speed and time that that happens.”
It’s interesting to note the state of Apple in 2004, the year Dediu claims they began to gain some traction against Windows.
Often referred to as a “halo device,” the iPod was reaching the peak of its popularity. Apple’s iTunes software had been available for the PC for 2 years at this point, and the iTunes music store was released a year earlier in 2003. In April 2004, Apple introduced what would soon become their most popular iPod to date, the iPod mini as well as the new iPod Photo, which allowed users to store and display photos on their portables. Now, recent reports are showing the iPad is the new iPod, driving users to choose a Mac after experiencing the tight integration of the Apple tablet.
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