MacWorld Survey: Intel transition may cool Mac sales

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
on to replace PowerPC chips with processors from Intel may have long-term benefits for both the company and its customers. But the processor switch could potentially hurt near-term hardware sales, if the attitudes of those surveyed in the Macworld Reader Panel are any indication of what Mac users are thinking.



Asked how Apple's decision to change chip suppliers could affect their decision to buy a new Mac in the next 12 months, a third of the 414 panelists surveyed by market-research firm Karlin Associates said they would be less likely to make that purchase.



The survey was conducted between June 15 and June 17, a little more than a week after the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote where Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced his company's new partnership with Intel. During that speech, Jobs also said the first Macs powered by Intel-built chips would appear in 2006, with the transition complete by 2007.



That two-year gap between Jobs' initial announcement and the completion of the Intel transition poses one of the biggest risks for Apple -- how does the company convince Mac users to keep buying new hardware if Intel-powered machines are just on the horizon? And the 33 percent of respondents who identified themselves as less inclined to buy a new Mac in the next 12 months indicate that challenge is a very real concern for Apple.



"I was planning to upgrade my office with the non-existent PowerBook G5 and home system with a dual-2.7GHz tower," said one respondent who described himself as frustrated by the news. "So now I'm in the lurch, especially when there are no new machines ready."



"My concern after already purchasing a Power Mac G5 this year [is] will Apple continue to make software updates [so] that I can get four to five years of life out of my machine like I planned?" another respondent asked.



Still, the results of the Macworld Reader Panel survey do offer some comfort for Apple. A majority of the readers surveyed said the switch to Intel chips wouldn't affect their purchase plans over the next 12 months at all. Another 13 percent said they were more inclined to buy a Mac in that time frame.



"My next Mac will probably still be PowerPC[-based] just so I don't have to upgrade my current software," said a respondent who is more likely to buy a Mac this year.



The reluctance of some Mac users to buy new hardware before Intel chips make their Mac debut could be related to the perceived speed and cost benefits of a "Macintel" computer. Eighteen percent of the panelists surveyed believe Macs with Intel chips will be faster than ones using PowerPC processors; another 15 percent expect the Intel machines to be cheaper. And 29 percent said they believe Intel-based Macs will be both faster and cheaper than their PowerPC counterparts.



"If it brings us faster, cheaper machines that I can afford on my teacher salary with little problems, I think it will be fantastic," a reader said. "If not, what's the sense in changing a good thing?"



Regardless of the perceived benefit of an Intel switch, Mac users are not expecting an entirely hitch-free transition. Two-thirds of the panelists surveyed anticipate some bumps in the move to Intel chips, though nothing serious. Another 26 percent expect more problems, but believe the transition will be made successfully. Only 4 percent are expecting a chaotic transition.



"I think Apple may have underestimated the challenge of the transition," a respondent said. "Not all apps will require only a tweak and a recompile."



Other panelists were more confident. "I don't think it's as big a deal as the Mac community seems to be portraying it," one said. "For me, as long as my Mac continues to act like a Mac, I don't care who supplies the insides."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 74
    gugygugy Posts: 794member
    I want to buy a new Mac PowerBook or Powermac, but my problem is that i feel discourage to pay the high Apple prices for machines that have not seem a major upgrade in years.

    So, I hope at least Apple will have price cuts across the two lines to make buy a new Mac more enticing.
  • Reply 2 of 74
    gugygugy Posts: 794member
  • Reply 3 of 74
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Duh.



    Sorry, but of course the transition is going to be difficult. There's a disincentive to buy before the transition, the fear of buying an obsolete computer, and there's a disincentive to buy after the transition, the fear that your old software won't work. They know this is going to disrupt their current iPod-driven resurgence - they must believe that it's necessary to take the hit now for a benefit 5 years out.



    I expect Apple's stock price to drop over the next year or so.



    Oh, and moving this to General Discussion. <click> <click> Hey it's not working.
  • Reply 4 of 74
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member
    I think the point about existing workflows and software is frequently overlooked. I think many businesses will buy existing PPC machines to ensure compatibility before they jump on the new MacIntel bandwagon.



    If my Mac was my lifeline I doubt I'd take a chance on untested, unknown hardware and software versus tried and true (and potentially discounted) gear.
  • Reply 5 of 74
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    I haven't spoken to one person who's all that worried. If people need a new Mac they know they have a proven performer in today's lineup.



    Powerbook fans are pretty jazzed about having faster products.



    I don't really care what 400 panelists say because you will get a different answer if you poll 400 people looking for computers TODAY. Hell if I wasn't looking for a computer sure I'd be leery of the transition but people who are fed up with their current slow computers are ready for new computers and forthcoming transitions do not cause fear.
  • Reply 6 of 74
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell



    . . . Oh, and moving this to General Discussion. <click> <click> Hey it's not working.






    Hey, I think this topic is very much about future hardware, Macs which are one to two years down the road. This survey is not much different from an informal Register survey I posted in a thread that got locked.



    The fear of obsolescence is the number one problem. If Apple does not do something to overcome this perception, sales of new Macs will drop. Contrary to some opinions, the sale of used Macs on eBay may pick up, as people seek out the cheapest option they can to tide them over through the transition.



    Another point that was similar in the Register survey is that some people will want Apple to drop prices significantly before they will buy now.



    I half expect Apple to make a presentation about the transition, aimed at customers and stock holders alike. If you think about it, the switch to Intel can be spun into something very positive for the present, eliminating most concerns about PPC Macs.
  • Reply 7 of 74
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Xool

    I think the point about existing workflows and software is frequently overlooked. I think many businesses will buy existing PPC machines to ensure compatibility before they jump on the new MacIntel bandwagon.



    If my Mac was my lifeline I doubt I'd take a chance on untested, unknown hardware and software versus tried and true (and potentially discounted) gear.




    I saw a lot of OS9-boot PowerMacs being sold at my University's shop after it was learned that OS9 boot Macs were on their way out.



    Just as there are people always looking for the latest greatesst, there are people happy to hang on to the current state of affairs as long as possible. I still have some odd-ball software I use that requires classic. I love OSX with classic support and will consider buying the last of the PPC Macs just to make sure I have a way of using the old software.
  • Reply 8 of 74
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Xool

    I think the point about existing workflows and software is frequently overlooked. I think many businesses will buy existing PPC machines to ensure compatibility before they jump on the new MacIntel bandwagon. . .







    Some will think this way, others have a different view, quote:



    "Stahancyk, Gearing, Rackner & Kent, a Portland, Ore., law firm, uses Macintosh notebooks and desktops for its standard office equipment. Don Kruse, the firm's IT manager, says Apple's move to Intel chips won't affect his purchase decisions in situations in which the firm needs new equipment, such as for a new lawyer or to replace a faulty computer. However, Kruse says he likely will delay more discretionary purchases until after the Intel-based computers have been out for a while."



    http://www.thestreet.com/_googlen/st.../10228802.html
  • Reply 9 of 74
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    For new people looking at upgrading the effect is minimal. When they worry about support you just bring up how easy it is to compile for PPC or Intel once a developer has tweaked their code. There's no reason not to create the dual binaries.



    You can forget Apple lowering prices on PPC hardware. That may have been a possibility if sales just died but they haven't so those dreaming of firesales will be sadly disappointed.
  • Reply 10 of 74
    gugygugy Posts: 794member
    My belief is that by September Apple will have a clear picture of the sales performance of their computers and then make a decision about price drops.



    I do believe some people are delaying their purchase until Intel comes in. In the other hand many people will buy the current Macs to be safe for the transition into Intel and maybe buy a rev. b to make sure most of the bugs and new software will be optimize for Intel by then.



    I guess right now is a 50/50 situation for new buyers and people who wants to upgrade.



    IMHO I think buy a new Mac now or in the near future is a wise decision and wait and see what happens with Intel. I agree that most folks are not so excite to spend big bucks on machines that are not so up to date. The last PB and Powermac upgrades were minimal. That's why I think Apple should lower their prices soon to entice people. Unless of course we see new good upgrades for the same machines coming soon. Something that I think is very unlikely.
  • Reply 11 of 74
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    For new people looking at upgrading the effect is minimal. When they worry about support you just bring up how easy it is to compile for PPC or Intel once a developer has tweaked their code. There's no reason not to create the dual binaries.



    You can forget Apple lowering prices on PPC hardware. That may have been a possibility if sales just died but they haven't so those dreaming of firesales will be sadly disappointed.






    Few people would take our word for it. It's Apple that needs to break some very positive news about the future of PPC Macs.



    I believe you are correct about price, but there are some who just will not buy a new PPC Mac now at current prices. Hopefully there are not very many of them.



    I also agree that those who really need a better Mac will buy. Maybe they will buy a new one, or maybe they will get a used Mac that still can meet their needs for the next couple years. However, it's those buyers who just want a new Mac that are most likely to hold off and wait. How many of those looking forward to a Pentium M Mac laptop in a year will be eager to get a new G4 PowerBook or iBook, if and when FreeScale delivers the new chip?
  • Reply 12 of 74
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Powerbooks will be hard to sell to anyone who knows that Pentium M Mac laptops are coming. Those that do buy will have to needs that can't wait.



    I think after the initial shock the feeling that it's the software and not the hardware that makes a Mac a Mac has taken over. Plus developers seem keen on the tools Apple has given for the transition so there is more positivity floating around than FUD.
  • Reply 13 of 74
    dcqdcq Posts: 349member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by snoopy

    Don Kruse, the firm's IT manager, says Apple's move to Intel chips won't affect his purchase decisions in situations in which the firm needs new equipment, such as for a new lawyer ...



    Do lawyers qualify as equipment?
  • Reply 14 of 74
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    BREAKING NEWS........



    This just in.... apparently day follows night



    MORE DETAILS SOON......
  • Reply 15 of 74
    I'm ready to spring for a dual g5 - I've gotten over my apprehension of getting "yesterday's computer" because I wouldn't want version1 mactel and I will get good use out of a new g5 now. I'm still waiting though - an extra couple hundred bucks price drop would be wonderful. I hope they don't wait til september to price drop though, I don't know if I can hold out that long.
  • Reply 16 of 74
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    I'm not sure why you folks are waiting for "price drops." I don't see any reason why they won't just continue to set their prices and upgrades the way they always have.
  • Reply 17 of 74
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    I'm not sure why you folks are waiting for "price drops." I don't see any reason why they won't just continue to set their prices and upgrades the way they always have.



    I can't speak for everyone who is waiting for a price drop, but I'm waiting for one because $2000+ is a lot of money to be spending for me and I'd like to spend less if I can. Apple has enough money in the bank that they can weather slower sales over the next year or so, BUT frugal people like me hope they try to stimulate sales by dropping prices on they g5 systems. I'm guessing that sales haven't picked up since their announcement (which may be totally fine for apple).



    A dollar saved on the system is a dollar than can go to upgrades (memory, hd, etc.) Now if money was not an issue for me then I'll order the top of the line dual 2.7 with the 30" display today and not think twice about it.
  • Reply 18 of 74
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    There will definitely be price drops, if by that you mean that they'll introduce new models and old models will be cheaper. Of course that's continually happening. But I don't think there's any reason to expect that there will be price drops in the sense that the line as a whole will get cheaper.
  • Reply 19 of 74
    gugygugy Posts: 794member
    I think price drops will happen if Apple has no plan to upgrade their machines in the very near future.

    Powermac 2.7 upgrade hapenned after almost 1 year wait. So if this timeline still the same for the next revision, i am sure Apple will lower their prices to keep the sales going. Waiting until next May seems to far to keep sales strong.

    Powerbook latest revision was a similar situation. too much of a wait for too little of upgrade.

    So, my guess is if they have no intention to upgrade soon they will drop prices to entice people to buy.
  • Reply 20 of 74
    arty50arty50 Posts: 201member
    I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet, but I'm really, really happy about one aspect of the Intel transition:



    Intel doesn't keep it's processor releases secret. In fact, it preannounces them. I've always hated the secrecy surrounding new Mac models. Both from a curiosity perspective and from a buyer's perspective. The secrecy never lets you know what's around the corner. Which is especially bad when the upgrade cycle isn't very consistent. Now we'll get relative consistency and be able to plan Mac purchases in advance.
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