Mac growth running out of steam as 'switcher' motivation diminishes - report

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
The Mac could become a victim of Apple's own success, according to one analyst, who points to the company's superior design aesthetic, along with the popularity of the iPhone and iPad, as reasons for stagnation in Mac sales growth.



Mac shipments are still declining more slowly than the overall PC market. But they are still declining ? a fact that analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. believes may be attributable to the Mac's "wow factor" gradually fading.

As a result, the Mac lineup may no longer be attracting many new "switcher" customers from Microsoft's Windows platform, Wolf said in his latest "Digital Lifestyle" report, provided to AppleInsider this week.

Overall shipments of PCs shrank 11.3 percent in the second quarter of this year. Meanwhile, the popularity of Apple's iPad has helped turn it into the world's largest PC manufacturer when iPads are included.

But the Mac has shrunk to just 20 percent of Apple's total PC shipments, when including the iPad.

Wolf points out that Mac sales have been outgrowing PC sales since around 2005, when Apple's iPod ruled the MP3 player market. The "halo effect" from the iPod ? and, later, the iPhone and iPad ? got consumers interested in Apple's other products, and buyers of the iPod and iPhone sometimes went on to become buyers of the Mac.

Wolf estimates that more than 40 million Windows users have switched to the Mac since 2005, a figure twice the size of the Mac installed base at the beginning of that period. Surveys conducted by Needham & Co. found that about 15 percent of iPhone- or iPad-owning Windows users actually go on to purchase a Mac, while 20 percent would consider switching.

The effect may have been greater in the past, Wolf said, when the quality gap between the Windows experience and the Mac OS experience was greater. PC designs, though, have become "satisfactory for the 'jobs to be done'," and the PC market is struggling as a result.

But at the same time, Apple's hardware and software advantages on the Mac platform may not appear quite as overwhelming as they did years ago, Wolf believes. He suggested that could lead some potential switchers to either stick with their current devices or to simply upgrade within the Windows ecosystem.

The report points to "both the ultimate desktop and notebook computers," Apple's iMac and MacBook Air, as initially engendering that "wow factor." In the time since those devices' introductions, though, Apple has been gradually improving their functionality and honing their designs, but with little in the way of massive upgrades:
"[T]he incremental improvements seem to have added little to the luster of the original models. While we believe the superiority of Macs over PCs continues, the shipment data suggest that Windows users' motivation to switch may have diminished.

Apple?s challenge as we see it is to continue to introduce compelling new versions of iMacs and MacBooks. But that?s a tall order given that the company has already introduced what in our view are virtually the 'perfect' machines for the PC market."
The report also acknowledges that Apple continues to generate the lion's share of profit in the PC market. Apple's Mac lineup generates more profits than the top five PC makers in the world combined, according to a recent analysis. The company also continues to dominate in a number of segments, with its MacBook Air line taking 56 percent of its market section and the iMac continuing to set the pace for all-in-one desktop PC design.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 114
    Blah, blah, blah...

    Aha! I see it's jump on the bandwagon and dump on Apple day again. Stock down 2.5% as of this moment...all of course based on nothing. Ha!
  • Reply 2 of 114


    lol. Sure this isn't a Scoopertino story?

  • Reply 3 of 114
    lol. Sure this isn't a Scoopertino story?

    More like a "pooper scooper" story. :D
  • Reply 4 of 114
    I just switched from a G4 Power Mac to a Mac Mini. Switching still happens, just depends on how it is defined.
  • Reply 5 of 114
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,530member
    Well the screw up iMac launch followed by a slow year of Mac refreshes so far will account for the sales slump.

    The new lineup should be very strong, expecting a nice uptick in sales from October through December.
  • Reply 6 of 114
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    So basically he's saying computers are so good now and last so long people don't feel the need to upgrade as often. To which I would reply: no shit.
  • Reply 7 of 114
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,675member
    Mac shipments are still declining more slowly than the overall PC market. But they are still declining ? a fact that analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. believes may be attributable to the Mac's "wow factor" gradually fading.

    You're sure this is the factor? Not that Macs last longer than PeeCee's? Ah, ok, Switchers. Well, I for one like my niche, I like my niche very much.

    edit: 'pipped' by walletinspector - you just made my point. Darn, what took you so long?
  • Reply 8 of 114
    xzuxzu Posts: 139member


    no games.... no fun...

  • Reply 9 of 114
    I just switched from a G4 Power Mac to a Mac Mini. Switching still happens, just depends on how it is defined.

    Last time I upgraded, I moved from Mac Pro to iMac and I didn't feel I got a lesser computer for having done so. My iMac is my all-time favorite Apple computer, right next to my Quadra 840AV. I'm really interested in the new Mac Pro, but I doubt I need that much power again.
  • Reply 10 of 114
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member


    pretty chart and analysis pulled out of a dark place.

  • Reply 11 of 114
    dilliodillio Posts: 106member
    They really need another campaign, like they had during Vista, to point out the problems with Windows 8 and 8.1. I wonder why Apple marketing has been silent on this.
  • Reply 12 of 114
    Apple doesn't need to upgrade their lines as fast as a PC company, but they are waiting too long between upgrades on the Mac line. The iMac is a classic example - why wait as long as they do before upgrading when a new chip is out.

    Apple has also fallen behind their previous pace when it comes to consumer software. iWork and iLife are two critical products that can be used to get potential customers to switch. When was the last time that iWork was updated - not counting the cloud?

    Now FileMaker is dropping Bento - a reasonably decent consumer database. What do you think the odds are that Apple will bring Bento in-house and use it to boost the desirability of iWork?

    The irritating thing is that Apple has the money to maintain a strong development staff for consumer apps - and that is where some money should be spent. Especially since you can tie consumers to three Apple platforms if you keep those suites fresh.
  • Reply 13 of 114
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,736member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    Last time I upgraded, I moved from Mac Pro to iMac and I didn't feel I got a lesser computer for having done so. My iMac is my all-time favorite Apple computer, right next to my Quadra 840AV. I'm really interested in the new Mac Pro, but I doubt I need that much power again.


     


    Ditto for me (plus I couldn't wait almost a year for the new Mac Pro).  While I certainly could have made use of the new Pro's horsepower, the Core i7 iMac w/ Fusion drive is no slouch.

  • Reply 14 of 114
    dnd0psdnd0ps Posts: 253member


    Oh, it's official then? APPLE IS DOOMED

  • Reply 15 of 114
    Maybe its time to lower prices :-)
  • Reply 16 of 114
    dillio wrote: »
    They really need another campaign, like they had during Vista, to point out the problems with Windows 8 and 8.1. I wonder why Apple marketing has been silent on this.

    Word of mouth and "halo effect" sales are the most effective form of selling. I'm not concerned...especially with anything Wolf cries.
  • Reply 17 of 114
    Apple doesn't care if you switch from Windows to Mac or from Windows to iOS.
    Either way, Microsoft is losing users and Apple is gaining.

    I think Mavericks and iOS 7 is going to do a lot to further distinguish Apple's dual-platform strategy vs. Microsoft's "no compromises" one platform strategy.
  • Reply 18 of 114
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kenaustus View Post



    Apple doesn't need to upgrade their lines as fast as a PC company, but they are waiting too long between upgrades on the Mac line. The iMac is a classic example - why wait as long as they do before upgrading when a new chip is out.



    Apple has also fallen behind their previous pace when it comes to consumer software. iWork and iLife are two critical products that can be used to get potential customers to switch. When was the last time that iWork was updated - not counting the cloud?



    Now FileMaker is dropping Bento - a reasonably decent consumer database. What do you think the odds are that Apple will bring Bento in-house and use it to boost the desirability of iWork?



    The irritating thing is that Apple has the money to maintain a strong development staff for consumer apps - and that is where some money should be spent. Especially since you can tie consumers to three Apple platforms if you keep those suites fresh.


    iMac is maybe 25% of apple's computer sales. this is why the MBA and MBP get more attention.

  • Reply 19 of 114
    512ke512ke Posts: 782member
    Maybe it is time to advertise Macs
  • Reply 20 of 114
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,736member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kenaustus View Post



    When was the last time that iWork was updated - not counting the cloud?


     


    It's obvious they're focusing all of their effort on the iOS and cloud versions.

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