Needham: Apple’s Mac market share could rocket to 9-percent if Intel-based Macs ran Windows apps

“Analyst Needham & Co has found that if the new generation of Intel Macs can run Windows applications then Apple could see a sharp rise in the number of PC to Mac switchers,” Simon Aughton reports for PC Pro. “The research firm quizzed 255 students in the US, 44 per cent of whom said they would be more likely to buy a Mac if it was capable of running PC apps. The proportion who said they would definitely buy a Mac was 13.5 percent. Without the support for Windows software the equivalent figures were 24.7 per cent and 1.8 percent.”

Full article here.

“Needham & Co analyst Charles Wolf believes Apple is in position to achieve a massive growth in its market share – with consumers very ready to make the switch,” Jonny Evans reports for Macworld UK. “Apple should make every effort to eliminate every last obstacle that may prevent a PC user moving to Mac, he says, particularly as the Intel processor switch means Apple can now ‘match the performance of Windows PCs.'”

“Wolf’s research suggests that consumers and others may be on the edge of a mass Mac migration: “The magnitude of possible Windows defectors suggests that Apple should go all out to remove the few remaining hurdles to running Windows apps on a Mac,” Wolf writes… Wolf’s survey showed that if Apple was to make it easy for Macs to run Windows applications the number of students who would buy an Apple computer would double… However, Apple is it’s own Achilles Heel, Wolf warns. When the company announced its shift to Intel processors in June 2005, Apple took the line that it would not sell or support Windows itself, ‘but would do nothing in its hardware design to prevent users running that OS if they liked,’ Wolf writes. ‘In our opinion, Apple comments are important for what they don’t say. They leave open the possibility that it will support the efforts of others to bring Windows to the Mac platform. Indeed, there have been unconfirmed reports that Apple itself may be secretly working on virtualisation software that would provide native support for Windows,’ he writes. Apple has the most to gain from allowing such support to emerge, Wolf said.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If Apple actually sold Macs that ran Mac OS X and Windows applications at native speeds, especially running the Windows apps without needing Windows using something like Darwine, we believe the the Mac platform’s market share potential would be even greater than the Needham survey indicates. The architecture industry that depends on AutoCAD (Windows-only) and the real estate industry (highly dependent on Windows-only apps) would be but two examples of entire industries that would open immediately for Apple. After all, why buy a Windows-only PC if Apple Macs could run both Mac OS X and Windows applications?

But if all Macs one day will be able to run Windows, won’t application developers stop creating Mac versions of their programs?
“It’s possible, but not very likely. Mac users are Mac users because they want to run software in the Mac interface. The large software companies that publish programs on the Mac understand that, and so do the small Mac developers who are making the coolest OS X apps around. I’d tell you that the middle-range developers with a flagging commitment to the Mac would be the ones most worth worrying about, but honestly, the Mac OS X transition already shook most of them out of the Mac market,” Jason Snell, Macworld, June 8, 2005.

As we wrote back in October 2005:
The ability to run Windows and Mac OS X only on Apple Macs could drastically alter the personal computing landscape. Apple doesn’t need to license Mac OS X to other vendors. Other vendors will need to figure out a way to compete with Apple Macs that can run Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux flavors. We don’t see how other vendors will be able to compete with Apple, especially if users can run Windows in a protected Mac OS X environment with no performance hit.

This idea doesn’t kill Microsoft right away (eventually it will, though, as users compare Mac OS X to Windows and end up using Windows less and less until they realize they don’t need Windows at all), but Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer, etc. wouldn’t fare every well pretty much immediately. You think Mac market share is growing rapidly now? Just wait.

Buyers could soon have the choice between buying a Mac that runs both Windows and Mac OS X or buying a butt-ugly, cheaply-made Dell and only being able to run Windows. Can anyone explain why would anyone in their right mind would buy a Dell or any other Wintel box assembler’s kit again? This could become “license Mac OS X or die” for the Dells of the world. But, what if Steve Jobs doesn’t feel like licensing Mac OS X? Checkmate.

[UPDATE: 10:22am EST: Added Jason Snell quote and link to “Take.”]

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Using virtualization to run Windows and Linux apps plus Mac OS X could double Apple’s market share – February 11, 2006
Intel’s Virtualization Technology runs multiple operating systems simultaneously – February 08, 2006
Windows to run on Intel-based Apple Macs before end of year? – January 18, 2006
Is Steve Jobs prepping ‘The Cupertino Project’ – Intel-based Macs that will run Windows apps, too? – December 27, 2005
Will future Intel-based Apple Macs offer multiple OS worlds via virtualization? – November 16, 2005
Apple patent application describes Intel-based Macs that run Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows – November 05, 2005
How Apple can win the OS war – October 19, 2005
Is Apple morphing Mac into the ultimate PC capable of running Mac OS X, Windows, Linux? – June 20, 2005
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal: ‘to take back the computer business from Microsoft’ – June 16, 2005
Intel’s built-in virtualization tech could be one way to run Windows on Intel-based Apple Macs – June 16, 2005
If Intel-based Macs can run Mac OS X and Windows, buying a Mac will be a no-brainer – June 15, 2005
Intel-based Macs running both Mac OS X and Windows will be good for Apple – June 10, 2005
Why buy a Dell when Apple ‘Macintel’ computers will run both Mac OS X and Windows? – June 08, 2005
Will developers stop writing Mac applications if Apple ‘Macintel’ computers can run Windows? – June 08, 2005


  1. This is like saying if diesel cars could use petrol.

    I have heard Darwine working with simple exe’s like minesweeper. But I think using it on something more advanced that contains registry entries is going to take a lot more development, probably never going to happen.

  2. Everybody is missing the point, 90% of the reason of buying a mac is for the superior operating system, sure even with windows youd have a well made and pretty computer but OSX is the main reason. God this irritates me to hear lol

  3. I gotta agree with MDN on this. Running Windows apps at native speed without windows on a Mac would remove possibly the biggest obstacle to someone switching.
    At the very least it would signifigantly erode Microshaft’s strangle-hold on the world. Imagine a world were we didn’t need Office for the Mac we could just use Office.

  4. So if the company can just program for Windows and not for the Mac, then companies have no need to stick with the Mac. OS2 did this with Windows apps before and well, OS2 is pretty much dead, and Windows took over. Live and learn, not just say it would be great, because the Mac would then get left out of development, and Windows would be the only thing people programmed for, then complain to Apple if a program didn’t work. Apple is not going to do this, so get over it.

  5. Personally I think apple’s best tool into getting people to switch is to get them in other areas – the iPod, the iPod hi-fi, a media center, home server solution. Once you get them with one of them you reel them in and plop them into the Mac net.

  6. Of course students would say this. Most students have a collection of unpaid-for software running on their Windows PCs. It doesn’t follow that the rest of the world would follow suit.

    Apple’s market share will rise to 9% on it’s own merits. It was already climbing before the Intel move.

  7. It would have to exclude any Windows source code for both legal and security reasons. If Apple could pull of an emulation layer, that would be seamless AND use the Mac interface elements, it would be huge.

    I think this is the real reason Apple switched to Intel. It worked once weening people from OS9 to OSX (Classic) why couldn’t it work again.

  8. I work in the architecture and real estate fields. I’m now letting others do the design work since my windows computer crapped out on my (only 2 years old). The MLS our region uses requires windows & IE only — can’t even use firefox on windows to gain access. I have to use a program called Citrix on my iMac to get into the MLS.

    I’ve talked to the folks that do the MLS system and they say not enough real estate agents have Macs to make it worth the effort to make it Mac compatible. Of course, until the MLS is Mac compatible the number of agents using Macs will not increase.

    I know a good 20 people that would LOVE to buy a Mac but due to AutoCAD and MLS they are stuck in the windows world.

  9. MDN’s regurgitated take relies upon the rest of the world being AWARE of OS X, which unfortunately is the biggest obstacle.

    Nine percent seems optimistic, but hey, I’d love to see it happen. I too have Windows friends who are finally ready to switch because they’ll keep their “safety net”.

  10. There are a couple of interesting and opposing points brought up above. The first is the OS/2 effect where the developer asks themelves why write for OSX when I can write for Windows and get the Mac users anyway. The second is opening the market to those that require one or two specialzed applications that are Windows only.

    I don’t think Darwine is the solution. I have no problem with the idea of having MS Windows on my Mac, so long as I still have my OSX when I want it.

    I am a recent switcher. Was Mac from 1984, stopped somewhere in the 90’s and came back a few months ago. If someone was able to get XP to run on a Mac, I’d go out and get a new MacBook Pro the next day. There are still a couple of apps that I use on the PC side, and they’re not games.

    The best solution might be one where the user had to dual boot to get XP. This way, they’d be more enclined to want an application that was native OSX rather than switching to XP to use an app that was dual platform.

  11. iSteve

    I understand where you are coming from. I had friend pretty much converted and then he found out the MLS site only works with IE for Windows and he had to buy a crappy Dell notebook instead. Sad indeed. I contacted the developer and they pretty much told me that they had no plans of supporting the mac.

    I had a Dell notebook and it was the biggest POS I’ve had. It can’t even be compared to my iBook.

    – The keyboard broke. One of the keys just popped.
    – The DVD drive would make a noise that you’d hear through the headphones
    – The pointing device (joystick) would often get stuck and would move the cursor off the screen
    – The power management features didn’t work well. When I closed it and opened it again it would sometimes crash.

    I do believe that supporting Windows in a mac would make sense for biz that must run certain win only apps. I also agree that if macs do this then developers may no longer have an incentive to develop software for OSX.

    I’m wondering if it may make sense for Apple to offer Win support only to biz. As long as MS Office for the Mac is around the average consumer doesn’t need Windows.

  12. Good Morning fellow Macdudes,

    From reading the article this morning it would be great if apple computer got mac os x to work with windows apps instead of resorting of Virtual PC which is supplied by u know who, (Darth Vader himself/Yoda).

    But as i was cruising on the net at 8 billion miles an hour on my new intel core duo (recently changed from windblows and the dark side), I came upon this piece of software called iEmulator. It does what we all want to do which is run windows apps on the mac platform. The only bad thing about it right now is that it don’t run on intel macs. But according to the email that they sent me it will be able to run by the end of March or April. Otherwise we can always resort back to Virtual PC with Yoda (Bill Gates) and his little Ewoks but who would want to do that since it won’t be released for another year of so. We can wait and pay the steep price that comes with it or try iEmulator while apple computer irons out the code a bit more to make it possible. Oh and i did i mention iEmulator is free or will be free when released for the intel mac.

    Here’s the link to iEmulator:

    Enjoy ladies and gentlemen.

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