Apple and the market share myth

“Some believe that Macs were the most popular personal computers on the planet before Microsoft and Windows took over. But that was never true, not even at the beginning,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “In the old days, ‘real PCs’ used MS-DOS and many were actually made by IBM.”

“When Windows became dominant, Apple’s minority market share really shrank,” Steinberg writes. “The success of Windows 95 convinced some to give up on Macs completely, since Microsoft and Windows were, to them, just as good, had more apps, and more users.”

MacDailyNews Take: Idiots.

“The theory has it that the iPhone took over the market, and Apple soon lost share to Android, particularly Android handsets made by Samsung. That was never true. The iPhone never held a majority position worldwide,” Steinberg writes. “Although the iPhone is a minority product, Apple controls the high end. Most of Samsung’s success comes from cheap handsets, where meager profits are being made. No wonder Samsung’s profits have been flagging of late, although that singular fact doesn’t get near as much attention as Apple’s presumed problems, real or otherwise.”

“These days, the iPhone is the number one smartphone in some countries, though, particularly in the U.S. where the both the iPhone 5s and that alleged failure, the iPhone 5c, routinely occupy two of the top three spots,” Steinberg writes. “Things get a little screwy when it comes to tablets. The iPad took off real fast, coming to dominate a market that had gone nowhere before Apple got into the game. These days, surveys that claim to report tablet sales report that the iPad’s share is slipping, and the combined total of other tablets covers a growing majority of the market.”

Steinberg writes, “If you can believe them.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

Related articles:
Why Android’s ’80 percent market share’ might only represent half of all smartphone users – January 10, 2014
Android users poorer, shorter, unhealthier, less educated, far less charitable than Apple iPhone users – November 13, 2013
Apple will continue to ignore Android market share stats all the way to the bank – October 29, 2013
Why market share doesn’t matter to Apple – October 21, 2013
Digging in on the Church of Market Share – May 25, 2013
The Church of Market Share revisited – April 26, 2013
Newsflash: Apple sells premium products at premium prices to premium customers – October 23, 2012


  1. They group in to the group eBook readers to dilute Apple’s tablet market share. Why not also count digital car stereo displays? However, iPads (that do what most people do with computers) isn’t counted as a PC.

    Stacking reality the way you want to see it doesn’t change reality!

  2. its a bell curve. A novel new hit product enchants the consumer, …then competing products move in to take a bite, sometimes for much cheaper. making the novel hit product not so novel and a commodity.

    THIS, is the game at play. It is nothing new. And when it comes to software of course market share matters. That’s what made MS DOS then Windows the entrenched monopoly that it is. Foolish article that misinforms its reader and tries to create its own half baked narrative.

    1. No, what made MS-DOS and then Windows & Office a monopoly was underhanded, manipulative and often illegal tactics by Microsoft. You need to read some of the history of silicon valley to understand what really happened.

  3. There was no market before the iPad. So Apple started with 100% of the market so there is pretty much no where except down. But, that really doesn’t mean squat in my kind because it’s about making great products, user experience AND making money. Both of which Apple is insanely great at.
    Those how pay their bills on “market share” will at some point be very sorry.

    1. There were PC tablets before the iPad, but they had stylus’ and they sucked. I remember going to a client meeting and one of the doctors had a PC tablet, and it was huge. I couldn’t imagine hauling that monster around. Steve Jobs showed the world how a tablet should be done and now everyone copies the iPad.

      1. I guess you could say the PC tablets were on the market first but I really see the iPad as a separate category all together. Kind-of like the iPhone. Sure, there were so-called “smart phone’s” on the market before the iPhone but really, were they smart phones? Would we classify them as smart phones today? I think they call them “feature phones”. haha
        So, are the old school PC tablets and book readers in the same category as the iPad? Lumping them all together is like saying the iPhone is in the same as my old flip phone. Agreed?

  4. The analyses of what’s wrong goes on and on and on and on. What a complete waste of time. The company is doing a great job of raking in profits, building an ever larger cash horde, and nothing more. If that’s not enough for you – it certainly isn’t for me – then you ought to join the barbarians approaching the gates at Cupertino determined to replace the current management with someone who gives a damn about what the company was when it was great.

  5. There was a PC market before Mac or MS-DOS, and Apple was the leader. In the late mid 70’s the desktop computer market was basically toys. Apple introduce the Apple ][ and with Visa Calc became the first computer small business could use. The market took off with Apple in the lead. The other big player was Radio Shack who had a store in almost every town in America. Then in 1980 IBM introduced the “PC” with MS-DOS. MS also made a version of DOS for the Apple ][. As the PC clones started to take off Apple introduced the Mac. Side note the Apple ][ was cloned before the IBM PC by Franklin. Apple sued, nothing is new. Then Apple hired a sugar water salesman who ran the company into the ground. Yes Mac was never a market leader but Apple was. The Apple ][ was the market leader when it was killed off for the Mac.

    1. There was a PC market before Mac or MS-DOS, and Apple was the leader.

      That’s not true. Apple II market share peaked in 1984 at 15.82%. At that time the PC market had 31.64% and Commodore 64 had 39.54%.

      If you look at Apple’s total personal computer market share (combining Mac and Apple II sales) you’ll see that 1984 was still its peak, but with Apple still in 3rd place with 21.82%

      Apple II market share:
      1977 0.40%
      1978 2.95%
      1979 6.03%
      1980 10.77%
      1981 15.00%
      1982 9.96%
      1983 8.54%
      1984 15.82%
      1985 11.83%
      1986 7.78%
      1987 5.43%
      1988 1.33%
      1989 0.95%
      1990 0.50%


      I don’t think Apple lead in market share for anything until the iPod in the mid 2000s.

      1. I stand corrected, thank you for the information. My main point is that there was a large personal computer market before Mac or PC. One that is important to look at for the smartphone and tablet market. The early PC market had a several players. IBM was late to the game but quickly took control of it. Similar to today’s smartphone market. My memory of the early days was skewed from an American business perspective. Commodore was a toy in that market, I never saw one. Radio Shack quickly dumped their system (TRS-80) and started selling another maker’s PC. I do remember how surprised I was when I moved to Italy and found out that Commodore was the leader. Partly because small businesses did not uses computers yet, and Commodore was better for the home market. Same today, other markets are very different than America. I do believe that tablet statics are BS with the revelations of Samsung’s BS and Amazon not giving any numbers. I believe in the US iPad still has over 50% of the market, and will for a long time. At least in the early PC market there were real sales numbers to work with.

        1. “Commodore was better for the home market.”

          As an Apple II owner (ok, actually I was a Franklin owner), them’s fight’n words son.

          That Apple wasn’t ever a leader in market share with the Apple II or Mac is one of those trivia things that I catch people on all the time. I wasn’t even away of this until fairly recently as my memory of the time was that there was the homebrew market (my stepfather had one), then the Apple II and Trash-80 (I had one of those too), with Commodore being something you saw in stores but only that “one kid” down the block had. It seemed like Apple owned the space until the IBM (and compatible) market took off.

          As far as tablet statistics…

          The BS is only going to increase… dramatically. What we’re going to see are huge numbers of really crappy low-end tablets being sold that run Android. Actually we’re seeing that now. Search and you’ll find new tablets for under $40. That Apple has the market share it has today with the iPad is quite astonishing given the market place.

          But as the unit market share declines, profit market share should remain extremely high which is one of two things that really matter.

          The second thing that really matters is active market share. Traditionally unit market share mattered in terms of app developers. As a developer, you didn’t care which platform vendor made the most money, but the number of users you could sell your app to (same with accessories). However, you can’t sell anything and expect to make a profit to someone who has a $40 tablet.

          And we see this in many statistics. iOS overall has a much higher active market share than the unit market share would otherwise indicate.

  6. This is a prime example why it is good to be skeptical in all things. Every claim, be it about iPads or Obama needs to be verified by independent sources. Most of the time what you find is someone is stretching the truth, if not outright lying. Every time I hear some outrageous claim my first thought is ‘that’s probably not true, how can I verify it?’

    And that is why bottninnik is such a troll.

  7. The first serious tablet was Nokias M510 already in year 2001, they manufactured 1000 of them but cancelled it just before they where about to sell them because market surveys showed that the world was not ready for it..the developers got to keep a copy of the model

    This story recently saw the light as one of the developers made it public:

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