“By most counts, they’re are a hit. But they were intended to woo new users to the fold, yet Mac market share has only budged — lower,” Alex Salkever writes for BusinessWeek. “When PC maker Gateway announced on Apr. 1 that it planned to shutter its remaining 188 stores, Macheads were quick to gloat that Apple, by contrast, is doing retail right… On the crucial basis of attracting newbies, Apple’s stores have yet to show any notable progress. Despite Jobs & Co.’s claims that 50% of the people buying at its stores are Windows users, Apple’s market share has made no significant advances. So while comparisons to Gateway might seem easy and feel good, they only go so far.”
“Ultimately, Apple stores could successfully become the primary Mac service point and cultural hub for aficionados. Apple already exerts much more control over its marketing message at the grass-roots level,” Salkever writes. “Still, the proof is in the number of new Apple users, and that remains discouraging. In tech tracker International Data Corp.’s latest tally of computer market share, Apple’s piece of the U.S computer pie slid from 3.5% in 2002 to 3.2% in 2003. The decline also speaks volumes about Apple’s campaign to woo switchers — if they were coming over in any significant numbers, then Apple would be growing faster than the broad PC market.”
“Clearly that’s not happening. Sure, IDC numbers are imperfect measures. A huge chunk of PC purchases come from big companies, and Apple doesn’t compete in that market at all. Still, it has to show some improvement in market share to convince Wall Street it has long-term legs,” Salkever writes. “For Apple’s retail experiment to be judged a true success, it would need to see some positive momentum in actual Mac market share from reputable sources, such as IDC. Absent these third-party judgments, Apple’s own claims about switchers lack credibility.”
“Do the retail stores hurt Apple? At this point, probably not. And they’ve certainly helped it to more effectively market its products. The stores have hurt resellers, but these shops presided over declining market share for many years. One can understand Apple’s impatience,” Salkever writes. “All other things being equal, though, until Apple can start posting rising market-share numbers, the final jury on the great retail experiment remains out.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple shipped 829,000 Macintosh units during the quarter ending December 27, 2003, up 12 percent from the year-ago quarter. Now where did we read the following excerpt? Oh yeah, we remember, it was in BusinessWeek, January 24, 2004. We’ll use it as our rebuttal. Perhaps Alex should read the magazine for which he writes?
“The Mac is currently enjoying a growth spurt. Sales grew 12% during the quarter. The sleek PowerBook laptops remain hot items. Sales of higher-end PowerMacs — used by publishers, ad agencies, and the like — are getting a lift from the economic rebound. Some evidence even points to Apple turning around its long decline in the education market. In a survey of school districts, market researcher Quality Education Data found that 30% plan to buy Macs this year, up from 21% in 2003. And brisk sales of the latest upgrade of Mac OS X, called Panther, suggest that many Mac customers are planning on sticking around. [Apple CEO Steve Jobs] wouldn’t mind if those analysts would start measuring the Mac by the profits it produces, rather than by its market share. ‘We’ve got 25 million customers that want the best computers in the world. If our market share grows, we’re thrilled. But we’ve held our own, while our rivals were losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year,’ he says. ‘We’re in pretty good shape,'” Peter Burroughs wrote for BusinessWeek.