Mercury News: Low market share is badge of honor for Mac faithful

“Apple is now more successful than ever. Sales and profits are setting records every quarter. New models of Apple’s Macintosh computers appear on magazine covers and make cameo appearances in numerous Hollywood movies and TV shows. Apple’s iPod is bringing new acolytes into the Mac fold,” Mike Langberg writes for The San Jose Mercury News. “Yet despite well-deserved acclaim for design and ease of use, Apple’s share of the worldwide PC market has tumbled from 4.6 percent in 1996, the year before Jobs returned, to just 2.2 percent in 2005. Microsoft’s bland and virus-prone Windows operating system continues to grab more than 90 percent market share… Gartner puts Apple’s 1996 share at 4.6 percent, IDC at 5.1 percent. Market share in 2005 was 2.2 percent from Gartner and 2.3 percent from IDC. According to Gartner, Apple’s market share peaked at 15.8 percent in 1980 — four years before the Mac was introduced.”

“Apple has pursued a deliberate strategy of appealing to a narrow audience of computing enthusiasts. These enthusiasts, the Mac faithful, understand the value of what Apple offers. They are willing to pay more than buyers of what hard-core Macophiles snidely dismiss as ‘Windoze.’ Apple’s main consumer desktop computer, for example, is the new iMac with an Intel processor starting at $1,299,” Langberg writes. “It’s possible to get a Windows desktop computer and monitor for as little as $399, after mailing a bunch of rebate coupons. Such a system offers much less performance and fewer features than the Mac, but it’s good enough for the vast majority of computer users.”

“Apple is thriving by not worrying about being a low-price leader. In comparison, the two biggest manufacturers of Windows PCs — Dell and Hewlett-Packard — do little better than break even at best on PCs they sell to consumers,” Langberg writes. “The Mac’s tiny corner of the market is sufficiently lucrative to support continuing state-of-the-art innovation in the Mac OS X operating system and related software such as iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, Spotlight and Safari.So there’s no immediate reason for Apple or Mac users to fret.”

Langberg writes, “Apple is somewhat stronger in U.S. consumer market share, with Gartner giving Apple 5.8 percent in 2005 and IDC at 2.9 percent [sic]”

MacDailyNews Note: That’s a mistake. IDC pegs Apple at 4.0 percent for 2005 U.S. market share.

Langberg continues, “It’s also worth noting that Apple’s worldwide market share did move up slightly last year from 1.9 percent in 2004, according to Gartner, or 2.0 percent, according to IDC.

“In the dark days before Jobs came back to rescue Apple from heavy losses and listless design, however, Mac believers often felt beleaguered and defensive. But now the clouds have lifted… ‘People don’t look down on you — `You’re still using a Mac?’ — like they did five or six years ago,’ added Steve Bellamy, an advertising agency executive in Menlo Park and president of the Stanford/Palo Alto Macintosh User Group. Leander Kahney, author of the 2004 book ‘The Cult of Mac” and an editor at Wired News in San Francisco who regularly writes about the most devout of Mac true believers, concludes: ‘Mac users are very confident these days. They’re hipper and smugger than ever. Low market share is a badge of honor. It shows exclusivity.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s not as much about being hipper and smugger, than it is about being smarter and realizing that life’s too short to waste dealing with mediocrity. Most Mac users don’t care about market share as long as we have enough for developers to keep making and updating Mac software. We’d like to see a bit more share growth, if only to prod some software companies to take a long hard look at Macintosh. It always amazes us that more software developers don’t wonder if they’d rather also sell their wares to people who have the money and the sense and the willingness to buy the best or just keep trying to sell software to people who buy cheap Windows boxes based on sticker price with fists clenched full of rebate coupons. Which user is more likely to pay full retail and who’s more likely to copy (steal) it from their friends or from work?

As we often mention, market share is different than installed base. More people use Macs than you’d think if you just looked at market share numbers alone.

According to US News and World Report, Macintosh owners buy 30% more software than their Windows counterparts. Further, Macintosh software comprises over 18% of all software sold, according to the Software and Information Industry Association. In addition, the Software Publishers Association (SPA) estimates that 16 percent of computer users are on Macs. More here.

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Related articles:
Tech writer: Forget booting Windows on Macs, now is the time for Apple Mac to take back share – March 23, 2006
Analysts: Apple a ‘big mean cash machine,’ expect Mac market share gains – January 20, 2006
IDC: Apple Mac 2005 U.S. market share 4% on 32% growth year over year – January 20, 2006
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005
Survey shows Apple Macs owned by nearly 10 percent of US small and medium-sized businesses – February 17, 2005
More people use Apple Macs than you think; 8-12 percent of homes use Macs – March 31, 2004
10 percent of computer users use a Mac; 3 percent is Mac’s approximate quarterly market share – February 10, 2004
Syracuse Post-Standard: 3 percent is a false stat; Mac holds ’10 to 12 percent of the market for PCs – August 27, 2003

39 Comments

  1. isnt it funny how to compare how expensive a mac is they compare a mid to high end apple to the cheapest pc they can find. stupid buggers, true i like being a minority – as long as that minorit doesnt shrink to size that makes popular software unprofitable to release.

  2. Installed base can be best estimated by internet usage, and for the Mac that’s between 3% and 4% (and growing) worldwide. The installed base among home users is probably closer to 10% (as many who identify themselves as Mac users are forced to use Windows PCs at work, thus cancelling out their “vote” for the Mac in Net stats).

    As well as Apple is doing, the only way for Mac OS X to gain significant market share is for it to be licensed out. Apple alone cannot supply more than a few per cent of the market, and the clueless majority don’t know the difference between operating systems, they just buy what’s cheap and accessible.

  3. But now the clouds have lifted… ‘People don’t look down on you — `You’re still using a Mac?’ — like they did five or six years ago,’

    Ain’t that a fact. The iPod/iTMS had a lot to do with it.

    ‘Mac users are very confident these days. They’re hipper and smugger than ever. Low market share is a badge of honor. It shows exclusivity.'”

    I’m not all that confident with Apple being able to produce a truly secure OS anymore, there has been just too many exploits.

    Far as the low markt share “badge of honor” I really don’t care about PC users anymore, or what they think. Neither am I trying to convert them anymore becuase people will use what they know.

    If you can introduce a new person to computers, then get them a Mac, but a lot of effort is wasted trying to convice a Windows user to switch operating systems.

    First of all most people barely know Windows or computers at all to be able decide which one is better.

    It’s only those who know both platforms well or those who only used a Mac and then had to use a Windows box.

  4. According to US News and World Report, Macintosh owners buy 30% more software than their Windows counterparts.

    It’s because Mac users on average have more disposable income because Apple’s hardware was usually higher. In some cases absurdably higher before the G5 chip rolled out.

    Further, Macintosh software comprises over 18% of all software sold, according to the Software and Information Industry Association. In addition, the Software Publishers Association (SPA) estimates that 16 percent of computer users are on Macs

    Remember Mac users don’t turn over their machines as frequently as PC users do. So even though we might have a low per year market share at 4%, our installed base is higher due to low turnover.

    You buy a Mac to last, you buy a Windows PC so a tech gy shows up to fix it and suggests you need to prematurely buy a new machine.

    See the cycle?

  5. regarding MDN’s take on software developers and consumers. You are correct about developer’s should take a look at the Apple consumer. But, perhaps, they already did. The vast majority of the software for Windows is very cheap crap. Those developers KNOW that they could not produce the quality necessary for the Apple market, so they don’t.

    Those developers that are capable of quality software actually do create for Macs. Not just because they can, but because they know that it will be appreciated. Quality software on a crap OS isn’t going to perform well.

    Apple’s biggest hurdle is trying to convince people addicted to eating crap, or merely content in being in a large herd of crap-eaters, that an Apple tastes better.

  6. Let Dell and the others peddle cheap boxes. They are the bottom feeders of the market and you know what they eat. Life is indeed to short to waste time on the mediocre.

    MW: Door. They want cheap? Show ’em the door!

  7. Why should I feel compelled to buy what everybody else buys? Remember the old adage about ‘What if everyone was jumping off a cliff? Would you want to follow?’ I feel that the same applies here.

    The mass market brainwashing that has the lemmings all buying the same clothes, cars, colas and cable packages apparently applies to computers. To all of this I say a hale and hearty Bullshit. Be yourself and buy what you want. You are the only one who will ever answer for your actions and it is your money.

    To quote a Prof at the ESC-

    Bandwagons don’t make it in from the parking lot. Be your own person, do your own thinking. Be an individual.

  8. Why should I feel compelled to buy what everybody else buys? Remember the old adage about ‘What if everyone was jumping off a cliff? Would you want to follow?’ I feel that the same applies here.

    The mass market brainwashing that has the lemmings all buying the same clothes, cars, colas and cable packages apparently applies to computers. To all of this I say a hale and hearty Bullshit. Be yourself and buy what you want. You are the only one who will ever answer for your actions and it is your money.

    To quote a Prof at the ESC-

    Bandwagons don’t make it in from the parking lot. Be your own person, do your own thinking. Be an individual.

  9. Why should I feel compelled to buy what everybody else buys? Remember the old adage about ‘What if everyone was jumping off a cliff? Would you want to follow?’ I feel that the same applies here.

    The mass market brainwashing that has the lemmings all buying the same clothes, cars, colas and cable packages apparently applies to computers. To all of this I say a hale and hearty Bullshit. Be yourself and buy what you want. You are the only one who will ever answer for your actions and it is your money.

    To quote a Prof at the ESC-

    Bandwagons don’t make it in from the parking lot. Be your own person, do your own thinking. Be an individual.

  10. Why should I feel compelled to buy what everybody else buys? Remember the old adage about ‘What if everyone was jumping off a cliff? Would you want to follow?’ I feel that the same applies here.

    The mass market brainwashing that has the lemmings all buying the same clothes, cars, colas and cable packages apparently applies to computers. To all of this I say a hale and hearty Bullshit. Be yourself and buy what you want. You are the only one who will ever answer for your actions and it is your money.

    To quote a Prof at the ESC-

    Bandwagons don’t make it in from the parking lot. Be your own person, do your own thinking. Be an individual.

  11. My sister-in-law gave us her Dell when the HDD in my venerable PowerMac finally died after seven years of faithful service. Note that the computer was still functioning well, but I didn’t want to put more money into it and I didn’t have the cash for a new Mac.

    I must admit that the Dull has been serviceable for general household needs (after replacing a failed power supply) such as surfing, kids games, email, etc. But it has also involved more work in terms of software maintenance/updates. In addition, I quickly realized that my security comfort zone had been replaced by a nagging concern regarding my on-line security, even after taking prudent steps to eliminate M$ hazards (e.g., switched to FireFox and kept IE installed only to run Windows update).

    I am getting a new Mac later this year. It is a no-brainer in my opinion as long as Apple continues along the same path that it has followed since the introduction of MacOS X. Apple users have weathered some tough times with respect to CPUs and OS transitions, but the last few years have been fantastic and the future looks even brighter. It’s a good time to be a Mac user.

  12. MacDude, you ramble back and forth in your postings and I seldom pause to dig deeper. But please explain the “many exploits” to which you and other Mac users have been subjected.

    If you come up with a valid number that is greater than zero, then please contrast that number to the experience of Windows users in a meaningful way (for example, number of successful exploits divided by the estimated number of users of that platform in CY05). You may end up feeling just a little more secure.

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