Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mac OS Market Share drops even farther

I've eavesdropped (and even participated on occassion) to MANY Mac vs. Windows debates. While there are things I definitely like about Macintosh, I cannot justify transitioning to one.

It would appear, a growing part of the population feels the same way, as the Mac market share has dropped slightly (granted, "slightly" is a relative term considering they only have about 4% of the market...even a slight drop can be fairly significant). The article says they've dropped from 4.35 to 4.33, but looking at the chart they cite, the 4.33 is from April this year...current data suggests a 3.71% market share for Mac. I'm definitely curious as to how this data was gathered and just how accurate it may be. In computer labs at school, a quick glance reveals probably 10% Macintosh. And of the students bringing laptops to class, abot 2/3 are Macs.

There is definitely a spiraling cycle in that the market share shrinks and thus there are fewer Macs for sale at your computer shop, so more people buy Windows....and the cycle continues. For students or small businesses, I think the Mac makes good sense in that you can buy a simple, complete package that will handle your office applications well. The machines have also long been known as the "powerhouses" for doing any kind of graphical work (though I understand PC graphics software have come on par with Mac in many ways).

The two biggest Mac problems for me then are:
1) Ease of upgrading - For a PC, you can generally easily Frankenstein a machine together for many years, keeping it alive and up to date. With a Mac, the historical trend has been that you're forced to buy a whole new machine any time you need to upgrade (admitedly this is getting better). On the flip side (and while this may initially sound like a "pro", it's my second "con"), you don't generally find yourself forced to upgrade your Mac....there's not often any new and improved software you're really looking to get that forces an upgrade.
2) Which brings me to point 2 - Games. Some other software too, but primarily games. Game developers (and many other third party software publishers) tend to ignore the Mac when they develop. Yes, I'll give Mac the graphical and multimedia software library to rival windows, but outside of that market, Mac is sadly lacking. Again, this is partly related to the supply and demand thing....publishers don't want to make software for an OS with only 4% of the market share, but at the same time, there's just not enough compelling the 90+% of Windows users to dump Windows and grab a Mac.

From what I've seen and heard, Windows Vista isn't making enough new and exciting strides to make all sorts of Windows XP (et al.) users quickly upgrade to the new version (partially because the new system requirements could require hardware upgrades as well). But new PC purchases will most definitely come bundled with Vista and all of its cheesy new features.

There will always be "fanboys" for both Windows and Mac. I definitely feel like Apple has the "style" factor down while Microsoft is filled with a bumbling lack of style. Macintosh design definitely feels sleek and appealing. But once you get past that shiny, attractive package, the interior just feels to be lacking.

I hope for the best for Apple because I definitely feel Microsoft needs some stern competition to get some true innovation going (as I mentioned before, Vista's feature set just doesn't feel compelling...especially after the length of time between OS updates). Linux may be making its way towards the fight, but it is still fighting the stigma of being the inaccessible taboo OS that the "normal" computer user will never be able to be comfortable with.


Anonymous said...

"The article says they've dropped from 4.35 to 4.33, but looking at the chart they cite, the 4.33 is from April this year... current data suggests a 3.71%"

The Inquirer's Nick Farrell said "According to Techweb…", obviously he is referring to this article from September 18 on, where you can find the same percentage figures: "According to data gathered by Net Applications, the Mac OS in all its flavors held down 4.35 percent of the world's operating system share in December. At the end of August 2006, it accounted for 4.33 percent."

Techweb reports that: "Intel-powered Macs made up a growing portion of that figure since January, Net Applications added. At 0.62 percent of all systems by August -- about 1 in every 7 Macs -- Intel-equipped Macs have been a quick success."

Net Applications says 4.33 percent, this is the figure reported by the press, but their chart says 3.71 percent for August. So it doesn't make any sense, does it? Oh wait, if I add 0.62 (Intel-powered Macs) and 3.71, I get 4.33. To analyze the traffic the Hitslink service is using the UserAgent sent by web browsers, "Macintosh; U; PPC etc." for PowerPC Macs and "Macintosh; U; Intel etc." for Intel Macs. This is how they know that Intel Macs represented 0.62 percent of all systems in August. Looks like the chart is only mentioning PowerPC Macs, for some reason.

"I'm definitely curious as to how this data was gathered and just how accurate it may be."

Up to the index for "We collect data from the browsers of site visitors to our exclusive on demand network of small to medium enterprise live stats customers. The sample size for these sites is more than 40,000 urls and growing. The information published is an aggregate of the data from this network of hosted website statistics. The site unique visitor and referral information is summarized on a monthly basis."

The data is collected from a sample of sites. This is a percentage of Mac users spotted on those sites, it has nothing to do with the actual market share, which is the number of computers shipped in a geographical area during a certain period of time, compared to the whole market.

This kind of data is collected by IDC for instance, the current quarter will end in a few days, let's check the previous one. April to June 2006: Apple had a 4.8 percent market share in the U.S., up from 4.4 percent in the same quarter a year ago. As usual they are not in the worldwide Top 5 but IDC says that 52.084 million personal computers were shipped. For the quarter ended July 1, 2006 Apple says it shipped 1,327,000 Macs. Their worldwide market share for the April to June period should be 2.5 percent.

For the previous quarter 53.207 million personal computers were sold worldwide and Apple only shipped 1.112 million Macs. Apple's share was only 2.1 percent worldwide. In the U.S. Apple had a 3.7 percent for the quarter, just like a year earlier.

The quarterly market share shouldn't be considered as conclusive evidence of a trend, but with the quarterly data in hand you can calculate the yearly market share, here the data was collected during a much longer period of time and thus it gives a better idea, in my opinion.

Year 2005: Apple had a 4 percent market share for the year in the U.S., up from 3.3 percent in 2004. They were not in the worldwide Top 5 but Apple’s sales totaled 4.742 million Macs during the calendar year 2005 starting in January. The worldwide market share should be 2.3 percent (All Vendors: 208.586 million units) for 2005, up from 2.0 percent in 2004.

For the fist half of 2006: 31.320 million personal computer sold in the U.S. and 1.326 million Macs: 4.2% U.S. market share. 105.291 million personal computer sold worldwide and 2.439 million Macs: 2.3% worldwide market share.

So, Apple is gaining some market share, but mostly in the U.S. and very slowly. And, by the way, it proves that The Inquirer's Nick Farrell don't know what he's talking about. "Market share starts to fall." Yeah, sure… :-)

Market share is not the whole story, you must also consider the installed base, the number of computers in use. In January 2004 Apple told us that the entire installed base was about 25 million Macs: "we plan to reach 10 million active Mac OS X users this quarter, which is 40 percent of our entire installed base." Recently Jobs stated that there is now 19 million OS X active users. By now pretty much everyone is using Mac OS X, except for some creep in Oklahoma City and his faithfull 266MHz iMac G3 from 1999.

The Windows installed base is much much larger: "By the time Windows Vista is launched -- due for later this year -- around 525 million users will be using XP, and the OS will be in use for years to come." (Al Gillen, research director for system software at IDC, article from 1/18/2006) But XP is not the only version in use, "the total number of PCs running Windows lies somewhere between 600 million and 700 million, according to Microsoft." (Redmond Mag, February 2005)

Presumably the percentage of Macs in use worldwide should be around 3.5 or 4%.

"publishers don't want to make software for an OS with only 4% of the market share"

I don't think software editors are so worried about market share, or I think they would care more about the total installed base and the number of Mac users who could eventually buy their software. Would it cover the cost of development? Is the targeted market well represented among Mac users? How many competing products are there?

Take Adobe for instance. Apple is competing with their apps (Final Cut Pro/Adobe Premiere, Aperture/Adobe Lightroom), the Mac has a single digit market share and installed base, nonetheless the Mac platform still made a quarter of Adobe's revenues in 2005. (Adobe is providing a break up of its revenue by platform on page 2.) Of course this is an extreme example because the Mac is targeted at creative professionals, the total installed base may be small, but there is still a lot of money to be made for Adobe.

"Research firm TrendWatch notes that Apple's share in its historically strong markets remains stable. For example, Macintoshes are used by 83 percent of graphic designers, 77 percent of corporate design departments, and 65 percent of ad agencies. [IDC analyst] Kay called these numbers "highly credible."" (article from Sept. 2003)

This is not necessarily the case for every editor, depending on the targeted market sometimes it wouldn't really make much sense to develop for the Mac. Say you're developping software for accountants, a bit of market research shows that the target market would be quite small, furthermore a well known competitor already had the idea to port his software. And people just love it, you wouldn't have a competitive advantage. Then I guess you won't develop for the Mac, because you're facing the worst case scenario.

Kevin said...

Ya whatev. Blah blah blah. It doesn't matter to me one lick what Apple's Mac market share is as long as they keep making them. I kinda hope it doesn't get too big cuz then we'd be dealing with the same problems MS is dealing with, trying to be everything to everybody and support everything and keep everything secure. Impossible.
I feel like I have one of the best kept secrets ever. And even if there is such a thing as a 'windows fanboy' I hope they keep it up so my little secret doesn't get ruined by getting too big.
So much of what you said in your post I have heard for years and years. Every single time I have run across someone who has 'switched' they had been talking like you for years. This may be a little harsh but it's just ignorance. It's like with so many things, if you just look at something on the surface, just look at numbers and feature lists, you can make any argument you like. If you actually 'use' the thing and get to know it then you see what it's all about.
The gaming thing is one area that I feel differently about. Yes, the PC is better for gaming. Fine, you can have it. I'm glad the Mac isn't spoiled by all that violence and sex and utter crap that PC gameboys are so in love with. Besides it's a proven fact the PC game industry is in decline. The consoles are winning that war. You should know better than most.
I don't know much about Vista, but I use OSX and XP equally every day. I am confident that OSX is a better OS than XP. Vista may equallize things again and that's fine.
Me and the other 13 mac users will just keep computing on our merry way knowing the secret we have and smiling all along the way.