Market Share Should Rise

Apple has been tripling or quadrupling the market growth in their unit shipments of Macs for the last couple of quarters. It should mean increased market share, if the next numbers aren’t higher, I don’t know how it works.


aj April 13, 2005

Measuring Mac marketshare is always dependent on a proper interpretation of the statistics.

If the size of the entire personal computer market grows, then merely shipping more computers won’t give you a bigger slice of the overall pie; you might just have the same proportional slice of a bigger pie.

In order for Apple to get a bigger overall slice, then not only would they need to increase unit sales, but the Windows universe would have to lose customers. In short, there would have to be a significant percentage of switchers and new buyers choosing Macs.

A lot of analysis is misleading. It depends on how you make the comparison.

If you’re going to compare the Mac OS installed base vs. the Windows installed base, that’s one thing. If you’re going to compare Apple to HP or Dell, that’s something else entirely.

And then there are market segments. Which OS / manufacturer is more dominant in productivity / games / publishing / graphics / music / science / web development?

You can sub-compare market segments and price points. Who offers the best value at $999? At $499? Are we counting bundled software as part of that value, or not?

What makes a better gaming platform – Mac, PC, or PS2? Depends on if you value reliability, power, price of entry, and size of the game library.

No reputable magazine would say that $10,000 Xeon servers, $5000 Voodoo gaming PCs and $399 Celeron home computers are in the same class of product. Apples, oranges and cherries.

But of course, lazy analysts will often count all of those as “Windows” machines vs. desktop Macs…

Patrick April 14, 2005

If the Windows market grew by 7-8% and Mac sales grew by 43% last quarter, wouldn’t that automatically mean Apple has a bigger market share for that period??

aj April 14, 2005

No, because those “percents” are measuring two different pies, and also two different things, market share (overall) and unit sales growth year-over-year.

Assuming the whole pie is 100%, let’s for the sake of argument say that Windows is 90% and Mac is 5% and the other 5% is “other.”

It’s been estimated that there are roughly 25 million active Mac users – which means there are about 450 million active Windows users. I’m sure those numbers are much higher, but whatever :)

Then, if you take just the Windows market as a new “pie” on its own. 8% growth of 450M is 36 million new users – it’s not taking 8% away from anyone else.

On the Mac side, 43% CPU sales growth means they are selling 43% more computers than they did last year, or quarter. That’s good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that OS X’s share of the overall pie is increasing.

If that accounts strictly for sales to new users, then that’s more comparable to the Windows situation. In that case, 43% “new” growth on a base of 25 million means 10.7 million new users, which would be stunning if it’s true—that would mean Mac marketshare nearly doubled. I don’t think that’s the case, though.

And you see how compared to the Windows “pie,” that doesn’t really represent a huge amount of growth. The overall pie is scaling up, but the proportion of the slices is roughly the same…

CPU sales figures usually account for people trading in (on leases), retiring old or dead Macs etc, so there’s no “growth” there, just one-to-one replacement.

There are plenty of people out there who purchase more than one Mac (desktop and Powerbook, home and office, etc.), which does boost “number of Macs in the overall universe” but doesn’t mean there are more new users either.

A more accurate measurement might be to say that Apple shipped more computers in Q4 2004 than Dell or HP—that would indicate something.

Splurge April 14, 2005

Windows sucks.

edemay April 15, 2005

Professor AJ!

aj April 15, 2005

hey, i just have this stuff in my head from trying to fight the irrationally anti-Mac types, the kind that say “Mac has only 1% market share, it should die.”

I mean, 1% of what? 1% could be 1 out of 100, or 100 million out of 10 billion….that’s a big difference :)

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