Apple now nearly as big as Microsoft Windows in personal computing sales

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Apple has passed Microsoft in profitability and revenues, but now the company is approaching a new, nearly unfathomable milestone: surpassing Windows in terms of global personal computing unit share.

Computing goes mobile, without Microsoft

Apple's share of conventional PC device sales is now over 20 percent, thanks to the rapid adoption of iPad.

Apple's three year old iPad has become so influential over the PC market that Canalys has actually dropped the term "tablet" (used by Microsoft for more than last two decades) and adopted "pad" when speaking of the iPad's market in a generic terms.

However, Apple's success with Macs and iPads has been overshadowed by the growth of iPhone. That has occured even as Microsoft's own attempts to deliver a mobile version of Windows first stalled, then imploded under intense competitive pressure that Windows never had to face during its heyday in the 1990s.

Apple closing on Microsoft
Image: ben-evans.com


As a result, the number of personal computing devices sold by Apple have now hit a quarterly record total just shy of 80 million units: 75 million iOS devices and 4.1 million Macs. The relationship between Apple's devices and global Windows PC sales was recently graphed out by Benedict Evans (above).

Apple's personal computing sales are now approaching 90 percent of the sales of WindowsGlobal sales of PC (including Macs) have remained essentially flat at around 90 million per quarter, meaning that Apple's personal computing sales are now approaching 90 percent of the sales of Windows, which has represented the world's largest computing platform for decades.

Other computing platforms, including Unix, Linux and Android, can also claim millions of users; Apple's iOS and OS X could even be considered part of "Unix," just as Android could be considered as a distro of Linux (which itself could be roped into the definition of "Unix-like" operating systems). However, no one company has control over how those generic platforms are implemented or directly manages their future the way Apple manages its Cocoa platforms.

This sets up a natural comparison between Apple's shipments of computing devices (which all run software created using Apple's development tools) and the global shipments of devices shipping with a version of Microsoft Windows. Just a few years ago, Apple was shipping a tiny sliver of the world's PCs by any measure.

Apple grows upward, with room for dramatic growth

Apple's growing importance in personal computing is closely tied to its success in launching and maintaining software markets for its platforms, a factor that distinguishes it from the DIY approach of Google and stumbling efforts by Microsoft to duplicate a rich ecosystem around Windows Mobile and its reboot named Windows Phone.

But Apple's growth is just taking root. While the company's Macintosh found it very difficult to break into enterprise circles, its iPhone and iPad have been enthusiastically adopted by corporations and government agencies. That in turn has softened the opposition to Windows alternatives on the desktop, resulting in the recent prediction by Gartner that "by 2014, Apple will be as accepted by enterprise IT as Microsoft is today."

Given Apple's relatively small representation among conventional PCs, this means the company has vast untapped markets to draw upon for increased sales, even as PC makers worldwide suffer from iPad cannibalization, stagnant unit growth and rapidly slipping profit margins.

Windows faces a RIM future

Apple's rapid climb upward toward Windows devices in global unit sales calls to mind the company's 2010 announcement that it had passed RIM in phone sales, a similarly unthinkable metric at the time.

In his October 2010 comments during the company's quarterly results call, Steve Jobs could confidently say, "We've now passed RIM. I don't see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future. It will be a challenge for them to create a mobile software platform and convince developers to support a third platform."

The cyclical nature of iPhone sales, which represents the majority of Apple's unit sales, means that it won't likely surpass Microsoft's global shipments of Windows before the end of 2013.

Apple's consistent growth and its success in selling both full sized tablets and smaller mobile devices from iPhones to the iPod touch and iPad mini stands in stark contrast to Microsoft's failure.However, Apple's consistent growth and its success in selling both full sized tablets and smaller mobile devices from iPhones to the iPod touch and iPad mini stands in stark contrast to Microsoft's failure to produce, design or even successfully herd its hardware partners toward sustainable sales of Windows-based phones, tablets, slates, hybrid touch notebooks, netbooks, personal music players or interactive kiosks.

While sales of Apple's personal computing devices continue to increase across multiple markets, Microsoft's Windows platform has run into a series of challenges as the growth of the conventional PC market has stalled.

Even Microsoft's long term development efforts to escape from a RIM-like fate have instead mirrored those of the BlackBerry maker. The market welcomed both RIM's PlayBook and Microsoft's Surface, but both ran into critical reviews and failed to establish initial sales.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 108
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,735member


    Yes, Virginia. The iPad is a computer. 

  • Reply 2 of 108
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,453member
    I haven't read the article yet, but I'll assume the missing term "PC" in the headline is a good sign.
  • Reply 3 of 108
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,071member


    It's not necessarily more about Windows than it is for the Fandroid apologists/iHaters that will soon come out of the woodwork, or from under their slimy rock and begin their never-ending spin on figures from irrelevant sites and blogs to put their POS on the front and center.

  • Reply 4 of 108
    I think this statistic has been lost in the obsession about revenue and margin growth. Note also the large year over year increase in devices sold this last quarter. If anyone needs to know whether Apple is continuing to grow, a gander at this graph would answer that question instantly!
  • Reply 5 of 108
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    Yes, Virginia. The iPad is a computer. 



    It certainly is, for many people. I gave my mom an iPad last year to replace her piece of crap, ugly, heavy and bulky Windows laptop that she had no clue how to operate, even though she had it for years, and it was nothing but one lousy problem after the other. She's completely computer illiterate, but she has no problems skyping, facetiming, listening to music, checking email, watching Netflix on the iPad etc., which is basically what the average person uses a computer for. Very few people are content creators. Most people are content consumers and don't produce anything worthwhile.


     


    I've never owned a Windows machine in my entire life, and I certainly don't plan on it now.

  • Reply 6 of 108
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,984member
    Whats more amazing is every single instance of iOS/OSX is attached to Apple hardware.
  • Reply 7 of 108
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,056member

    The Seattle Times had a very interesting article today painting an even grimmer picture for MS...

    http://seattletimes.com/html/microsoftpri0/2019853243_goldman_sachs_microsoft_os_has_gone_from_more_than.html
  • Reply 8 of 108
    wardcwardc Posts: 150member
    So The Mac OS X Install base (number of Macs currently used) is about to eclipse the worldwide number of Windows PCs currently in use? I have been waiting for this day to come, for the Macintosh!! If this article is categorizing iOS devices to fill those numbers, it's pointless then...I am only interested if this article actually refers to the Macintosh becoming #1.
  • Reply 9 of 108
    nikon133nikon133 Posts: 2,599member
    quadra 610 wrote: »
    Yes, Virginia. The iPad is a computer. 

    Sure is.

    So was my Palm Tungsten... any smarphone I ever had (probably some feature phones, too)... Fisher-Price learning-for-kids computers...

    But it is not a PC.

    That being said, these things might replace PCs. Before something else replaces them, in a 10 year time. Just like fax replaced telex, and email is replacing fax.

    Or maybe not.

    We'll see.
  • Reply 10 of 108
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 11 of 108
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post





    Apple's share of conventional PC device sales is now over 20 percent, thanks to the rapid adoption of iPad.


     


    And that right there is where this article contradicts itself, and is exposed as complete BS.


    No, Virginia, the iPad is NOT a "conventional PC," it's a tablet. A good tablet, possibly the best tablet on the market, but still just a tablet.


    See that orange bar on the above chart? That's the accurate representation of Apple's "conventional PC" market share, and I daresay it's substantially lower than Microsoft's.


     


    What is up with all these articles trying to convince people that Apple is a powerhouse, despite it's recent stock performance? When did Apple users and investors become so thin skinned, and where are the days of "market share doesn't matter, profit margin does"? Apple is still a solid performer, a market leader in all the ways that matter. I don't feel any less confident in my stock or my Apple products than I did a year ago, so what is with all these lipservice articles? They aren't helping.


    Want to look weak? Go out of your way to convince everyone you're not.

  • Reply 12 of 108
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nikon133 View Post



    But it is not a PC.

     


     


    I would say that it is. A PC is a personal computer of course, and if an iPad is the only computer that somebody owns and it fills their needs, then that is their personal computer. 


     


    With the over hundred million iPads sold, many people are buying them to use as their primary computing device. 

  • Reply 13 of 108
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post



    Whats more amazing is every single instance of iOS/OSX is attached to Apple hardware.


     


    Oh yeah?


     


    I'll just leave this here.


     


    http://www.hackintosh.com/

  • Reply 14 of 108
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post


    What is up with all these articles trying to convince people that Apple is a powerhouse, despite it's recent stock performance? 



     


    Um, Apple's stock may have recently taken a slight hit, but Apple is definitely a powerhouse. Apple still rules over all.


     


    The point is that traditional PC sales are on the decline. Fewer people are buying them. Hard drive sales are declining, because not as many PC's are getting built. Everything is going Flash and SSD, thanks to mobile devices and iPads. iPads are taking over. People are choosing to buy them instead of old, traditional and out of date PC's which few people want anymore.

  • Reply 15 of 108
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post


     


    Oh yeah?


     


    I'll just leave this here.


     


    http://www.hackintosh.com/



    A few people might build hackintoshes, but overall, I think that the percentage is very small.

  • Reply 16 of 108
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 17 of 108
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    Yes, Virginia. The iPad is a computer. 





    According to the definition of a "computer", so is the IPhone and the IPod Touch.  If they include those, then Apple has more like about 50%+ of the computing market.  They all have processors, an OS, RAM, storage, a keyboard (virtual), a screen, and can output to printers, be networked using WiFi, run applications, etc.   Hmmmmm....

  • Reply 18 of 108


    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

    I'll just leave this here.


     


    http://www.hackintosh.com/



     


    All 20 of them.


     


    What, you think OS X on PC hardware represents any measurable proportion the market? They're within the margin of error within a rounding error within the industry's margin of error. 


     


    And, come on, how many Hackintoshers actually buy their OS', do you imagine?






    Apple's EULA explicitly forbidding use on anything but Apple computers you never know when the other shoe will drop and you'll get a visit from the men in black.



     


    This is certainly enforceable for resellers, not for individuals.

  • Reply 19 of 108

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post





    The Seattle Times had a very interesting article today painting an even grimmer picture for MS...



    http://seattletimes.com/html/microsoftpri0/2019853243_goldman_sachs_microsoft_os_has_gone_from_more_than.html


    I think that captures it rather well. It does make you wonder how Ballmer holds onto his job.

  • Reply 20 of 108
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    A few people might build hackintoshes, but overall, I think that the percentage is very small.





    Yeah, those are just for people that don't quite understand the concept of having a proper Mac.  Oh well.  I understand their mentality, even though I wouldn't do it.


     


    Personally, I think Apple should offer a lower cost tower that has i5 and i7 processors  and got the graphics card mfgs to actually make OS X drivers and then people could stick drives, RAM to their hearts content.


     


    I also wish Apple would also make a more feature/powerful versions of the MacMini (MacMiniPro)....

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