Monday, October 08, 2007

Apple's Mac Market Share: Up, Up and Away

With all the hoopla surrounding the iPhone and the newest iPods it's sometimes too easy to forget that the greatest share of Apple's revenues and profits is generated by the Mac computer.

Recent developments from the halls of higher education are a harbinger of consumer news to follow, as student consumers are leading-edge indicators of coming mass-market cycles.

At Princeton, The Daily Princetonian reports that Apple's share of faculty and students is at 40%, up from 10% four years ago, and that sales this year are at 60%, easily surpassing all of the Wintel alternatives combined.

What effect Vista, Microsoft's touted new operating system? Well,

After four years of skyrocketing Mac ownership, however, the advent of Windows Vista sparked speculation that Microsoft could reclaim its former dominance on campus.

But the operating system's debut was not all that PC users had hoped for. Vista requires a much more powerful computer to run properly, and unfortunately, some of the Dells found in computer clusters and science labs don't measure up.

"Some of the machines are three years old and are not beefy enough to run Vista optimally," said Leila Shahbender, manager of customer support at OIT.

Vista's sleek new interface — touted as sexy by Microsoft advocates — is almost useless and is so taxing that the system should be sold with additional memory. I mean, why hassle your customers?
The report continues
Princeton is not the only campus where Mac use is on the rise. At a recent college technology conference, Shahbender found that Mac sales also had significantly increased at MIT, Columbia, Dartmouth, Penn, Duke, Stanford, Cornell and Brown over the past few years.
Apple's offerings are experiencing similar receptions at other schools. According to Roberta Lembke, director of information and instructional technologies at St. Olaf's in Northfield, MN, as reported in the Pioneer Press, Macintosh
"pricing has come down, and the products are extremely functional, (and Apple) "support is excellent, its quality is excellent (at a time when some) PC makers have seen a nosedive in the quality of their products, (causing) consumers to lose confidence.

"The iPod is what brought people to at least consider the Mac again," Lembke added.

The Mac has a 25% share at St. Olaf's, double that of five years ago, where
Students who switch from Windows PCs to Macs are commonplace, Lembke said, but "I never hear students who have switched to a Mac saying they are going back to Windows."
The Missouri School of Journalism reports that fully 99.5% of its entering students choose Macs over the competition.

Part of the answer may be contained in the lengthy report in The Wall Street Journal describing how many users regard Vista as part of the problem, not the solution. According to Jason Fry's Readers Endorse Switch to Apple
Vista was the final straw for a number of Windows users. Microsoft has a problem on its hands there.
UPDATE: eWeek's Microsoft Watch reports an amazing new statistic. Joe Wilcox writes that 20% of the current retail sales of Microsoft Office are for the Mac platform. The most likely purchasers? Switchers, computer purchasers who once used Wintel machines but who are now purchasing Macs.

Imagine, five years in development, hyped beyond all reason, and Vista has lost the college kids and the professionals.

Vista, the Edsel of the 21st Century.

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