Mind Share Versus Market Share

April 10th, 2007

All through the years I’ve used Macs, I’ve been forced to endure taunts from people telling me that Windows was actually the way to go. You know the excuses, that the Mac was just a play thing and that the PC was the computer meant for “serious work.” Worse, there really wasn’t much Mac software. How did they know? Well, look at the paltry numbers catching dust on the back shelves at the local computer outlet?

Since I was involved in prepress work when I began to use a Mac, I knew how silly such superstitions were. By day, I worked long hours in QuarkXPress and Adobe Illustrator, and at night, I was writing books and magazine articles in Microsoft Word. So much for not doing serious work on my Macs.

I also learned that the best place to buy software in the days before the Internet counted for very much was via a mail order catalog. It was clear that, if you went to the right sources, there was plenty of Mac software to buy.

More recently, even as Steve Jobs overhauled Apple and delivered a steady stream of iMacs and iPods and other fashionable products, the critics still spoke of the company as somehow beleaguered. Every so-called “iPod killer” was touted as the one that would topple Apple.

As Apple switched to Intel processors, and the iPod retained its number one spot, you could feel the winds of change. More and more tech journalists talked glowingly about their success in adopting Macs. Surprisingly, some writers who cater to audiences of IT professionals said in no uncertain terms that it was time to take the Mac seriously in the business world.

In the old days, a new operating system from Microsoft was almost akin to a “second coming.” But the reception for Windows Vista was largely lukewarm, with many commentators remarking how hard Microsoft tried to emulate the look of Mac OS X Tiger. But only on the surface, because Vista retains the typically convoluted interface oddities of a Microsoft product.

Just the other day, Apple announced that over 100 million iPods were sold over a period of some five-and-a-half years. This is surely the first time Apple has sold that many copies of any of their hardware products. At the same time, some 2.5 billion songs have been purchased from iTunes.

At the same time, the tech pundits remind us that Microsoft’s Zune music player is a pathetic also-ran that stands little chance of gaining much traction against the iPod.

Indeed, Microsoft is no longer the 800-pound gorilla marketer that scares its competitors silly. Some analysts have even gone so far as to suggest that Microsoft is suffering from the early stages of its “death throes,” and that they must change their ways to halt a slow, inevitable decline.

Now despite the iPods status as the dominant music player on the planet, Mac market share, although improving, is still just a few percent, more or less. So is that poised to increase next?

True, the sales figures for new Macs could remain in the single digits, overall, but still improve enough to move millions and millions of them into homes and businesses.

But now that Apple is the company that can do no wrong, are they poised to see a huge growth in the sales of new Macs?

No, I don’t mean from 5% to 10%, but a far greater increase, perhaps as high as 20% and more.

Of course, even that figure wouldn’t match what the likes of Dell and HP regularly achieve, but it would put billions and billions of dollars into Apple’s coffers. You see, even though Macs are now priced pretty closely with comparably-equipped PCs, the average transaction price of a Mac is far higher.

Michael Dell has to be jealous as he ponders the sales figures for those ubiquitous $399 computers that can barely run Windows Vista — and then only the Home Basic version. No wonder he finds profits hard to come buy nowadays.

To be fair to everyone, the fact that Apple has attained the status as a winner doesn’t guarantee it’ll supplant PCs and take over the market any time soon — if ever. But Apple has a knack for exceeding Wall Street’s expectations. No wonder Intel gave them first digs at that new 3GHz quad-core Xeon processor for the latest Mac Pros. They see a winner too!

But the big question is just how many customers will agree.

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3 Responses to “Mind Share Versus Market Share”

  1. Tom B says:

    The tipping point will come when a few Fortune 500’s get fed up with Windows’ high “Total Cost of Ownership” and upgrade to Mac. It come be like a dam breaking open, just like Win95 was, albeit Win95 pushed people in the wrong direction.

  2. The tipping point will come when a few Fortune 500’s get fed up with Windows’ high “Total Cost of Ownership” and upgrade to Mac. It come be like a dam breaking open, just like Win95 was, albeit Win95 pushed people in the wrong direction.

    Well, they still have to factor in the initial investment, which includes new software, or software “sidegrades,” and at least a minimal training process. It takes a couple of years to really overcome such things and see the difference down the road. A lot of companies don’t think that far in advance 🙁


  3. Richard Taylor says:

    Back in the late ’80s I was the only computer-savvy person working for a small Hollywood studio. Mind you, in those days the only computer on the lot (other than my own) was a mini. I argued long and hard for a Mac solution, but of course senior management didn’t listen to me, going with MS-DOS machines and an entirely new department to run them. One of the execs ridiculed the Mac interface, saying that command line was all anyone needed, along with a good terminate, stay resident (TSR) system. The day Windows 95 was installed, this same exec was seen walking up and down the halls of Main Admin touting his new Windows machine that, he exclaimed, “works just like a Mac! Really! Just as good as a Mac!”

    Oh, really?

    This is why Macs won’t grab corporate real estate any time soon — the business mind, which knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

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