Somewhere, Apple CEO Steve Jobs must be smiling. The iconic and controversial electronics figure, rarely skips a beat in his tireless promotion of the Mac computer. Q1 2008 also brought some very impressive numbers for Apple.
This time it wasn't Jobs who was hailing the Mac's market turnaround, but NPD, fresh off their latest number crunching. In Q1 2008, Macs overall took 14 percent of the market for personal computers, and took a whopping 66 percent of the lucrative $1,000+ personal computer market. On the desktop side of things, Apple owned a 14 percent overall retail share, and 70 percent share of the $1,000+ sales. For notebooks, the sales were 14 percent and 64 percent respectively.
Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis pats Apple on the back for its impressive numbers and gives a stick to Windows PC makers. He states, "In notebooks [Apple is] growing two times the market; Windows notebooks are pretty much flat right now."
Apple notebooks, according to Baker, are up 50 to 60 percent from Q1 of last year, while Windows notebooks show virtually zero percent growth. On the desktop side of things, Baker states, "They're up 45 percent. The [overall] market is down 20 percent. Windows desktops would be down 25 percent."
Baker comment glibly, "iMacs are growing and the Windows desktop ain't. No matter how you look at it, Apple is outperforming Windows."
Some would be quick to point the finger at Microsoft and Windows Vista. Vista has earned substantial criticism, though some supporters ardently defend it. However, love it or hate it, Baker doesn't think Vista is a big factor. He states, "I don't believe that Vista's to blame. The vast majority of consumers don't care [about the installed operating system]."
What is the key to the Mac's success, particularly in the high-end market? Baker says part of it is due to the fact that, besides the Mac Mini, all Mac's are priced at over $1,000. Baker states, "If you don't give people a choice, people will spend more."
He sees the growth of Mac sales as a sign of consumers making emotional decisions. He argues that the average consumer doesn't care so much about features, but cares more about how they feel the overall experience of the computer will be. He states, "Consumers don't care about features. People see a value proposition in an offering that gives them a great experience."
Baker also says that Apple is cashing in via improved retail store presence, including benefits from increased business at its own stores. He says, "Apple has got better distribution than it's had in the last 15 years. They're in the right spot right now. There's the iPod advantage. But the big thing is the stores."
Apple stores, he says make the customer feel like they are the recipient of individual attention. Says Baker, "What Apple drives home: This is a product that we own from factory to finger. We exert some control so that you get the best experience. When you get in the store, we get you what you want."
The next logical question, Baker says is, "[Apple has] already won when somebody comes into the Apple Store. How does it play in places where they're not the only answer? How big a handicap is Windows?"
Therein lays the key to Apple's success in Baker's mind -- "captive channels". He advocates that if Microsoft hopes to remain successful it should follow in suit, opening at least a small chain of Microsoft stores. He states, offering an analogy to the fashion industry, "In a multi-channel environment you should have some kind of owned--and operated--channel as well. When you look at Coach they have their own showcase stores as well."
Apple's strong sales will likely be fodder for more debate among detractors and fans. However, Baker provides an interesting third-party perspective from the firm watching all the numbers. While his suggestion of a Microsoft store certainly seems outlandish, stranger things have happened.
quote: What is the key to the Mac's success, particularly in the high-end market? Baker says part of it is due to the fact that, besides the Mac Mini, all Mac's are priced at over $1,000. Baker states, "If you don't give people a choice, people will spend more."
quote: Where there is windows at work, there is usually windows at home.
quote: Dominating a tiny portion of the market doesnt mean a whole lot
quote: Macs are mid-range computers
quote: They 'own' that market because they are the only ones in it
quote: Similarly equiped PCs cost less.
quote: Make the iMac 3 inches thick and 300 dollars cheaper if you have to...
quote: Apple has a clear open window to cut down the price and double, even triple their sales...
quote: they would much rather grow in snail pace rather than shoot up
quote: ...if you have to lower your profits - that's what you mean.
quote: Growing in snail pace allows them to keep high profits. Lowering prices and shooting up will immediately lower their profits.
quote: quad core CPU's could be bought for $250
quote: Macs are overpriced midrange computers
quote: or they will never get over 10%...
quote: In most consumer scenarios 3.06 GHz C2D will be faster and more responsive than your 2.4 GHz $250 Intel quad, since _typical_ consumers don't run a lot of four-thread parallel calculations software at home these days. Hence both 3+ GHz C2D and 2+ GHz quads belong to one niche, called "high end".
quote: Just like I laugh at anyone here calling my 9800GTX that I got for mere 200 bucks "overpriced". Sure, some guys don't understand why would anyone pay such a serious money for a 3D card. I don't blame them :-)
quote: Most techies don't get this. For them hardware overclock is Da King, everything else is a useless waste of money.
quote: Microsoft is in EVERY STORE already
quote: corporations don't care about Macs due to their price
quote: I think MS just does not care about retail PCs
quote: The only reason for MS to open their own retail stores would be only if Macs start to make a serious dent in the enterprise market and I don't see thins happening in the foreseeable future. Or am I wrong here?
quote: the $1,000+ category is a small fringe of overall sales
quote: MS doesn't make PCs, so what exactly would they carry at their retail store?
quote: why it won't work with MS branded PC
quote: that's how apple has succeeded - by keeping such tight control over things
quote: There is no reason for them to get into the hardware market
quote: Same was said about MP3 players and gaming consoles before
quote: just use the tactic Apple uses
quote: But in the personal computer market, MS is king
quote: MS is losing the high-profit premium PC market
quote: I suppose MS would not like to see its main competitor grabbing one half of the consumer spending on the market
quote: You probably don't realize that market share is nothing and profitability is everything. Well, I hope you'll get this later sometime :-)
quote: why would they care how much the hardware costs?
quote: Apple's about the only company that still sells PCs over $1000
quote: most of those desktops are focused at either gaming or high-end business applications like CAD
quote: The laptops are primarily focused at business use
quote: look at what the study covers. RETAIL sales.
quote: I'm going to have to ignore every single anti-PC comment you ever make
quote: You suggest that people do things even you aren't willing to do
quote: Retail sales are indication of the global market trends. They just show what general public prefers to buy for home use.
quote: Retail sales of Windows Vista pale in comparison to OEM license sales. Getting the bigger picture yet?
quote: And retail sales of Macs pale in comparison to online sales of Macs. So what? ;-)
quote: I'm sick of all those Apple stories. Apple this, Apple that.
quote: And I feel sorry for people that pay Apple the price premium for the hype.
quote: I have yet to meet one person who has switched back to windows once they've worked on a mac. Traffic seems to be flowing in one direction.
quote: Baker comment glibly, "iMacs are growing and the Windows desktop ain't. No matter how you look at it, Apple is outperforming Windows."
quote: Maybe not to others but you seem to be the MS fanboy.
quote: Apple has made the personal computer exciting again for the masses.
quote: We exert some control so that you get the best experience. When you get in the store, we get you what you want."
quote: Baker states, "If you don't give people a choice, people will spend more."
quote: He states, "Consumers don't care about features. People see a value proposition in an offering that gives them a great experience."
quote: When you get in the store, we get you what you want."
quote: with the Ferrari you are getting a car loaded with features, performance, and luxury
quote: Why do people get mad that Apple is doing well? How does Apple's alleged success encroach on your ability to BYOPC, or purchase a PC from a standard manufacturer if you want to?
quote: If anything Apple is helping us PC heads out by driving manufactures to create more compelling PC products.
quote: And as for the OS X v. Windows crappola...