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The total number of Apple devices sold will equal the number of Windows PCs by some point this year, predicts Asymco’s Horace Dediu in an interesting piece of analysis.

The dark shaded area compares all Apple hardware – Mac plus iPad plus iPhone – with Windows PCs, and shows that by last year there were only 1.18 more Windows PCs than Apple devices. It’s of course a somewhat artificial comparison, as Dediu is including iPhones while excluding Windows Phones and tablets, but given the very limited success of Windows mobile devices to date, correcting that wouldn’t change the patterns too much.

What’s particularly interesting here, as John Gruber notes, is that the dramatic reversal kicked in well before the launch of the iPhone. Dediu and Gruber between them put forward a number of theories for this, and of these I think three are likely key …

First, the iPod. Millions of people were introduced to an Apple product for the first time and fell in love with it. Suddenly, looking at a Mac made sense – if a company could make that good a job of a music player, what might its computer be like? This factor obviously increased dramatically after the launch of the iPhone, but was already well in evidence.

Second, having looked at Macs and liked what they saw, the barriers to switching were lower than they had ever been before. If accessing the Internet is the main thing you do with your PC, there’s not much new to learn when it comes to doing the same thing on a Mac.

Third, consumers stopped following the cues of business – which was overwhelmingly using Windows machines at the time – and started feeling able to make their own decisions, as laptops in particular started being seen as accessible consumer devices. Once they felt able to choose for themselves, many chose Macs.

Removing mobile devices from the equation changes the numbers, but not the trend. Peak Windows was back in 2004, where the ratio of Windows PCs to Macs was 56:1. By last year, that ratio had fallen to just 18.8:1. While there was a temporary blip in the Windows vs Mac graph around 2011-12, likely sparked by the emergence of some very sleek Windows ultrabooks, the Windows lead once more appears to be resuming its downward path.

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13 Responses to “Total Apple device sales will equal Windows PCs this year, predicts analyst”

  1. p101616 says:

    Wow – finally we are free of MS domination and monopoly

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    • Some well made points by other posters, but a few things to keep in mind:

      1. The WIndows PC, pretty much since IBM introduced it in the early 1980s, as been the top selling computing device. Whether it be mobile devices, tablets, or other computers, the point at which the Windows platform is the dominant platform is coming to an end (for better or for worse). While it may be an unfair comparison to pit mobile devices against desktop/laptop computers, the ever increasing amount of mobile devices will draw developers to the mobile platforms (iOS & Android). The ease of creating applications for the mobile platforms will make it easier, cheaper, and faster to develop those applications. And while ” Total Apple device sales will equal Windows PCs this year”, according to the analyst, note that Apple only has about 20-30% of the mobile phone market, and 40% of the tablet market. If the sales of the Android devices is added in, it further illustrates the change in how people are spending their money.

      2. Tim Cook has already shown that he can deviate from the Steve Jobs playbook. Steve Jobs was pretty adamant that 7″ tablets were useless. Tim Cook brought out the iPad Mini (OK, so its 7.8″).

      3. Apple doesn’t care about market share. They never have. If they did, they would have given up in the mid 1990s (just before Jobs returned). Apple’s focus is on profits, and creating a quality product that will allow them to retain current customers, and slowly gain new ones. The only have 20-30% of the mobile phone platform, yet take 70-80% of the profits. They don’t make “cheap (as in less than $800)” laptops, but own about 50% of the market for laptops over $1000. And they are the first to see the decline in traditional desktop and laptop sales, years before the so called “analysts” did.

      Kostas

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  2. Oflife says:

    Sorry, but to compare sales of mobile devices (which by their nature sell in vast quantities in proportion to that of PCs/Macs) is not an accurate way to report sales figures. Like for like, please. IE, iMac VS PC, or iPhone VS Windows Phone. (Where you can bet it’s still 10% to iMac and 90% to Windows.) And the reverse for the phones.

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  3. What Gruber and Dediu have thus far failed to offer in their analysis is the CRITICISM of Apple for failing to have capitalized on this trend. Yes, Apple Mac sales have trended higher than the market (drop), but Apple has continued to make amazingly poor decisions about the Mac hardware and software since this trend emerged. Anyone working in the industry/sales who was watching back in 2005 saw this coming. I certainly did, and I argued it via tweet and email with both. Instead, we’ve seen: Mac Pro, the highest margin market segment computer Apple makes, languish; a complete holiday miss on the iMac; the Mac mini, the absolute best conversation-starter there is for the “switcher” conversation, languishing months behind low-cost PC competitors while Dell and HP fail to address the market niche for physically small business computers (only Lenovo has a good business-class competitor with the M72/73/92/93z Tiny); an absolutely bizarre back-turning on OS X Server development (which small businesses need, to compete with Windows Server needs); two sequential roll-outs of OS X that are severely hindered by bugs to the productivity apps, Calendar.app and Mail.app; and a Wall Street defying expansion of margins in the face of both pricing pressure from competition (the Windows crowd are dropping prices, they HAVE to) and a rising pile of cash that EVERYONE thinks is problematic.

    And Tim Cook and crew can’t figure out what to do to drive Mac sales beyond flatline year-over-year?

    So I’ll tell them what to do, for free:
    – immediately announce an initiative to revitalize OS X Server for small and medium (less than 100 employees) businesses. Couple OS X Server with iCloud, as SMB (Small/Medium Business) around the world don’t have the checkbooks to afford the ubiquitous internet that the Fortune 500 has…theirs goes down, A LOT. Even in the US. [I have several clients on less than 3Mbps!] Sure up the features of Server to work better in a mixed platform environment. It doesn’t need to do Active Directory, but it should be able to do effective and capable team file-sharing better than a $200 Netgear or Synology NAS.
    – implement a Dropbox-style solution for SMB. Maybe buy something or use the BitTorrent Sync tech. But it should be peer-to-peer, cloud-synced, and support versioning. Think SharePoints for less than 50 seats. [http://mairin.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/the-one-where-the-designers-ask-for-a-pony/]
    – Make Time Machine network backups work. I mean, really work…really good. No excuses. Preferably, add a Windows client solution too.
    – update the Mac mini and keep it current. It is the SINGLE most effective piece Apple has to destroy Microsoft Windows (the iPad is the absolutely KING when it comes to destroying Microsoft…but when the client is already talking Windows, they aren’t likely going to settle for an iPad).
    – introduce a 24″ Thunderbolt monitor for a price people can actually read and not laugh at. CEOs, lawyers, accountants, and office managers don’t want 27″ billboards on the corner of their desks. And PC monitors mostly suck and are usually aesthetically disjoint. (Apple should want visitors to their customers to see an Apple logo, not an ACER or ASUS logo.)
    – Consider making a 24″ iMac: one model, with one BTO upgrade, not a whole tier. 24″ is the sweet spot for business, not 21″ or 27″. Follow the 27″ path of user-upgradeable RAM (that’s non-negotiable for the business world).
    – drop the price of the iMac $100. Every model. Better yet, drop the Mac mini by $100 too. That would be HUGE. I could sell minis against PCs all day long without breaking a sweat.
    – consider expanding AppleCare for Macs to offer a 5 year plan, some businesses, esp small businesses, budget on a 5 year ROI not a 3 year ROI.
    – Get the Mac mini Server model qualified, officially, for VMware Hypervisor. Otherwise, the computer is a terrible value now that OS X Server went to $20
    – Pull Mail.app, Calendar.app, and Contacts.app from both OS X and iOS development and set them up as independent suite with their own dev cycles, like the iLife and iWork suites. (If I trusted the iWork team, I’d say put them in there. But that’s been a hairy mess the last three years, so no…) They need to arc over the OS tick/tock, currently you’re breaking too much that’s too important to people who rely on communicating to get work done.

    None of that would be a significant undertaking for Apple at this point. Some of it could be done in an Apple engineer’s sleep. Some of it would take nothing more than Tim Cook going to The Street and putting forth a vision (explaining lower prices, lower margins). Some of it is effectively already done, all but the advertising (VMware). But all of it would put Apple in a SIGNIFICANTLY better position for what is coming in the US and Europe, and what China will eventually see a few years later: an explosive rise in entrepreneurialism and small business growth, but on a smaller budget than previously seen. Customers will be looking for value (so not the “cheapest”, but the “best” at a economical price) and are already wary of Microsoft’s tricks. Right now, Macintosh is just plain expensive.

    But going forward, Apple follows Steve Jobs’ belief that general purpose computing (and the Macintosh) is dead at its own peril. And looking at Apple’s reply to what has happened since 2004, that’s the path I see being followed.

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  4. I’ll bet the average selling price of an iPhone is higher than that of an Windows PC. So I’d say the comparison is fair enough.

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    • ASP is definitely higher if you compare what carriers pay for an iPhone vs what consumers pay for a PC. Many consumers only see $199 or $99 as the price of an iPhone. (Then they hate the carrier for the expensive service.)

      What happens when subsidies go away? Do you really think Apple could sustain this level of iPhone sales if they asked consumers for $600ish up front? I don’t. It’s a great device, but very good Android phones can be had for just over half that price.

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  5. drtyrell969 says:

    Sorta like comparing your success to a tragedy.

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  6. Kroo Smith says:

    It’s never a fair comparison. Apple sell the hardware and software that support all their products, where MS pretty much just sell software licenses. Apart from the lowly surface and the xbox, MS have never make computers. Now if you were to compare every bit of hardware and software released out of Cupertino, Apple would be way out in front. If MS didn’t have hardware partners, where would they be?

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  7. You can look at it in any way you want it, you see morea apple products all over the place, I use both a Mac and a PC, both are top equipped, PC is a lame on windows 8.1 and my macbook por retina is a bullet. I use an iphone, the appstore and my software investment has chained me over there, I have an Ipad obviously for the same reason.
    Microsoft is uncreative, cheater and stealer.
    Steve Jobs came back tosave his company, the one he created in a garage, and Bill Gates has just been kicked out of the company he created selling an operating system he sold in millions as his but that had been bought in thousands to an independent programmer, afterward he robbed the mac interface and created windows, but Jobs and apple learned and as long as Bill Gates could steal no more, their lack of creativity is evidenced as a mortal disease, windows is doomed, is designed by an sort of idiots that seem to ingore the real role of the desktop PC.

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