What is Apple’s share of the personal computer industry? It’s hardly a question for the ages, but it feels like die-hard Macheads have been fussing over the size of Apple’s slice of the market for at least that long. Now with the launch of a new operating system and stellar financial results, the debate has reached a fever pitch. Yet the question has also never been less important.
For years, Apple’s Macintosh computers have been stuck at around five per cent of the market, while PCs running the Windows operating system made up most of the rest. But two new reports have revised Apple’s market share upward. Research firm IDC found Apple now sits at 6.3 per cent, while rival Gartner pegged it at 8.1. The Internet soon lit up as bloggers, analysts and tech journalists dissected the duelling reports.
Then Apple released its annual results last week, which showed that whatever the exact market-share figure, more Macs are definitely finding their way into peoples’ homes. Apple’s profit jumped 75 per cent to US$3-5 billion, partly due to strong iPod sales, but mostly because of demand for Apple’s pricier desktops and laptops. With the launch of Apple’s Leopard operating system last week, analysts predict another boost in sales. “Apple is reaching a strong inflection point in terms of PC market share,” Mike Abramsky, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, told Bloomberg. “Even though there’s a lot of focus on the iPhone, it’s really the Mac that’s driving the growth in revenue and earnings per share.”
The truth is Apple’s market share is not nearly as important as it might seem. The company’s niche of premium-priced computers has led some analysts to compare Apple to BMW. The luxury carmaker has less than five per cent of the North American market, but bigger rivals would kill for its steady growth and profit margins. That’s not lost on Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-foun||èr CEO.
A few years ago, when Apple’s share was still stuck at five per cent, he told a crowd: “What’s wrong with being BMW or Mercedes?” M ;
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