10 percent of computer users use a Mac; 3 percent is Mac’s approximate quarterly market share

“It broke Mike’s Viglione’s heart to see that old Macintosh abandoned on the street like that. Who would do such a thing, he wondered? He grabbed the computer and took it home. He dusted it off and gave it new life. The Apple joined a happy little computer family made up of three Mac Classics, four Powermacs, a dual G4 Desktop, a G4 Powerbook and a charming little iPod. Viglione doesn’t use them all. He just likes having them around. He says he doesn’t ‘have the heart to throw away the classics.’ Hey, it’s a Mac thing – PC folk just wouldn’t understand,” Christopher Hutsul reports for The Toronto Star.

Hutsul reports, “Because the Macintosh, which celebrated it 20th anniversary in January, has endeared itself to a community of computers users in an almost spiritual way. Two decades after Steve Jobs unveiled the first Mac, people like Viglione – and me – get downright emotional about our Macs. Ever heard of new Mac smell?”

“‘For the people who are dedicated enthusiasts, I think they see their computers almost as pets,’ says Viglione, who sells Apple products by day at a computer store. ‘As a Mac user, your computer takes on a personality. You treat it with a human-like quality.’ You don’t often hear people talking about their consumer electronics this passionately. But Macintosh has been able to separate itself from the herd since the beginning,” Hutsul reports.

“Now this isn’t about whether Mac is the better computer. Depending on how you slice it, Macintosh has been both the best and the worst of the computer market. Even with the recent successes of the iPod and the coveted Titanium Powerbook series, some estimate that only 3 per cent of the market does its computing on Apple machines,” Hutsul reports.

[MacDailyNews Note: 3% is the current quarterly market share, not the installed base. Hutsul should have reported “only 10 percent of the market does its computing on Apple machines.” It’s knowledge that can be gathered, but for some reason most in the media never seem to be able to do their research. Here’s an exception: “Naysayers have been calling for Apple’s demise for years. But Apple not only has survived but thrived, it seems, at least partially by the sheer force of Jobs’ will and his ability to maintain the ferocious loyalty of Apple’s users, who still account for 10% of the world’s computer users, while its sales usually account for about 3% to 5% of the world global PC market,” Arik Hesseldahl, Forbes.com, June 2, 2003. (source)/a>

“Dissidents would argue that in terms of pricing, the high-end Macs cost up to 50 per cent more than a similarly equipped PC (though I’d counter that by suggesting the price gap is erased by the fact Mac users seem to hold on to their computers for about twice as long as PC users, thereby spending the same amount),” Hutsul reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A good article that repeats the same mistake many reporters make. Macs last longer than Windows PCs. If Mac users replace their Mac every 4 years and PC users replace their every 1.5 years, what does that do to quarterly market share numbers? Not to mention, what does that do to landfills? The important number to analysts, marketeers, software developers, and others should be how many people out of 100 use a Mac? The answer is closer to 10 people out of 100 or 10 percent. Not 3 percent. We get tired of having to point this put, but we’ll never stop doing so until the “3 percent myth” is destroyed.

Obviously, Apple needs to address the current market share numbers or their percentage of all computer users who use a Mac will erode over time.


  1. Should we, or Apple, really care about market share? So long as Apple remain a profitable company then we all win (providing that they don’t hike up their profit margin on sales in order to generate said profit!).

    People have different tastes and, more importantly to some, different budgets. That is why we consumers have choices from which pen we write with to which car we drive. Yes, if Apple kit cost the same as regular PC kit then there’d be lot more of their kit flying off the shelves. But that isn’t the Apple way any more than it is, say, Mercedes. Personally I bought the following last year from Apple: iPod 30GB, PowerBook 12″, AirPort Extreme Card and Apple Bluetooth Mouse. I could’ve saved money, and in some cases gotten more features, but I *wanted* these things rather than the other products in the market place. However, the last year was the most (by far) I’ve spent on Apple kit in many years.

  2. I tend not to believe this 10% installed base. If you look at google zeitgeist you’ll see that only 3% of the hits come from Macs. While this isn’t very scientific it challenges the 10% estimate.

  3. The 3% number is valid for the analysts and wall street guys. They are concerned about how much money Apple is making, which is tied to how many computers they sell this month. 10% is probably a more important number for developers who are concerned with how many copies of their titles will be sold.

    Of course, neither number indicates that Apple is going out of buisiness any time soon.

  4. Google Zeitgeist would be inaccurate, Anonymous. Not all browsers and OS’s can be indentified correctly by Google. If you add the 4% they claim as “other” to Mac (much of the unidentified 4% most likely is Mac), you’d get 7% – which is at least closer to the true 10% than 3%.

  5. “…only 3 per cent of the market does its computing on Apple machines,” Hutsul reported.

    Patently wrong. It is important that this myth is refuted routinely. Thanks, MDN!

  6. If you want to bust a myth try finding some facts. The Forbes article MDN uses as a “source” states the 10% figure without attribution. Is it hard to reference the “study” that came up with this number?

    Same with the “If Mac users replace their Mac every 4 years and PC users replace their every 1.5 years” idea. Yeah IF.

    In my small world of a few hundred computers I know of, corporate, business, and private, I think 3% would seem high. Of course others will have other personal views, and I bet in some settings mac laptops are quite popular, since they compete on price like no other part of Apple’s line.

    It’s almost depressing that this group jumps on such flimsy reporting and gives it creedence. If you want to feel good about yourself, go give a homeless guy a burger.

  7. As Steve Jobs has said…..market share is NOT important. Making profit is. And that is their main focus right now. As he has said before…he is grateful for the 25 million customers that Apple has had because they are the best 25 million customers.

  8. “at least partially by the sheer force of Jobs’ will and his ability to maintain the ferocious loyalty of Apple’s users”

    I’ve never bought a Mac because of Jobs “sheer force of will”. I buy the best computer.

  9. I’ve always been skeptical about the 10% number. It’s like the “megahertz myth”: it has theoretical merit, but seems insignificant in the real world. Macs were way slower than PCs, so Mac pundits touted the “megahertz myth”. Now Apples biggest problem has been solved with the G5, so MDN is pushing the “3 percent myth”. I’m skeptical.

    I wouldn’t be surpised if the installed base is higher than 3%, but where does “10%” come from. Was there a study? A survey? A calculation that can be explained to a layman like me?

  10. 250 million PCs in world (most of dumb terminals stripped out of this figure, but not all, becuase they don’t really count in this equation) that people actually are using. 25 million Macs in use. 250/25=10.

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