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Apple's Mac Surge: 4 Observations
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stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 7:48:47 PM
Re: Smart tactic
First, sorry for the tone of my previous post. I think I get what you're saying now. I just get miffed by the 'clueless consumer' thing, or worse 'status symbol' being applied to Apple purchases. I didn't understand the context well enough.

I agree that many business purchases are based on software, or simply a numbers thing when buying hundreds of units. While I'd argue that many times, they might be better off in the long-run making other software decisions, or that the number on the spreadsheet isn't a very good representation of actual value and costs, I can at least understand those decisions. I've been in many meetings where that's happened. :)  (I'm curious what software you run too.)

And, unfortunately, some of that is still left over 'by design' incompatibility designed by Microsoft. It is amazing to me that in 2014 there are still companies locked into older browsers because they wrote 'web-apps' compatible with purposely incompatible browser calls. My point... what many businesses do isn't very smart at all. I still remember a mid-sized client arguing with me that they should run Lotus Notes because xyz big company used it. Sometimes it's hard to keep a straight-face in meetings like that!

re: consumers - I guess my beef there was with the term clueless. I get that you mean clueless about how it all works (IT-wise), but IMO, this actually makes them rather wise consumers. Instead of buying the cheap, troublesome option, they spend a bit more to get better end results. Also, I'd argue that most Mac users fair much better on their own, and that many don't even have an Apple Store with genius nearby. Yes, that's a nice privledge, but even without it... chances are most people will have lesser need for that over the years with Macs.

Also, as I mentioned in another post... Apple has WAY more than a 6% share of usage. It was around 10-12% back in Apple's dark days (the mid-late 90s). This is especially true if youd don't weigh the average corporate desktop as heavily. But I also disagree on the utility thing. No way I'd rather run Ubuntu. And, that has almost nothing to do with available software. When I'm working, I want to work on the task at hand, not the machine it's running on. Windows especially, and even Unix, gets in the way of that much more than my Mac.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 5:49:01 PM
It's all about marketing
As as consumer, I think for Apple, the surge in sales is primarily due to the "me too" mentality of the herd.  To a lesser extent, customer service and even security stand head and shoulders above Microsoft.  Additionally, MS doesn't have the cutesy commercials/ads that Apple does nor the blind worship of a dead leader (Steve Jobs) that Appleheads have.   
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/23/2014 | 5:28:03 PM
Re: Apple's Mac Surge
It also comes down to what you're used to. I find Windows easier to navigate because it's what I learned on. I use a Mac sometimes for work but just don't find its UI all that intuitive for things like connecting to a remote network. Small things like Ariel not rendering properly in Chrome -- or that spinning candy wheel with no ctrl/alt/delete/task manager/KILL PROCESS -- annoy me. Now, maybe someone who uses a Mac all the time could fix these problems easily, but to me it's a time suck.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 5:14:25 PM
Re: Apple's Mac Surge
@ Michael

I think things are quite a bit different today than a decade ago. In the past, while I've always felt there was an advantage to Mac use (in many, but not all situations), you had to be a bit of a self-motivated rebel to go there. The well-known software packages were on Windows. The vast majority of people you probably knew were on Windows. You'd often get snide comments... so you had have have a bit of a thick skin. And, compatibility between the two worlds was often a struggle you just had to push through and deal with.

It's quite different today. Nearly any decent software package is available for both, or the better package is available for Mac. You'll often find other Mac users, and the snide comments typically only come from a few ignorant hold-outs. It's pretty easy to find another Mac user for advice and community. I'm not sure the productivity gap is quite as wide as it used to be, at least not only considering the computer itself (in the whole picture of mobile devices, etc. it might not be a bigger gap!). And, compatibility really isn't that big of an issue any longer. Macs can easily run Windows apps if needed and the Internet has pushed everyone to more platform-agnostic formats for data.

So, here's my read.... If you're in some corporation where a machine is put on your desk, it's probably Windows and you don't have much choice. If you're more independent or given the choice, depending on job duties and software, many will now pick a Mac. If you're a home user, the Mac is pretty attractive unless you're simply shopping price. Who knows where the user-share will ultimately end up, but this latter situation is certainly going to increase the percentage. And, if Microsoft doesn't get back in the game and the data becomes further abstracted from the OS, they will decrease and others will increase, with Apple probably having a big percentage of that pie.

Regarding the state of the ecomony... I think it depends. One the one hand, a tougher economy means people want to spend less. But, if they percieve an overall advantage and longer life from the more expensive product, they might go pick that too. I have relatives who are on their 4th cheap PC in a timeframe they probably would have had only 1 or 2 Macs... and, likely without nearly the amount of troubles and services center charges.
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 3:45:18 PM
Re: Smart tactic
If you work in a business that CAN use Apple computers and is willing to pay the premium costs, then more power to you. I've been in several engineering companies though over the years and I've yet to see any that ran Apple computers. Most places want the biggest bang for their bucks, and that usually involves buying PCs, not Apple computers. Each have their own niche markets. but sometimes, if you want to run certain software you simply have to use Windows PCs.  As for consumers, I stand by my remarks. Most of those who use Apple products turn it on and expect it to work (and why not?), but they have no real knowledge of how or why it works, or how to begin troubleshooting one. They take it to an Apple store and let some "genius" fix it, while once again paying a considerable premium for the privilege. To them a computer is an applicance like a refrigerator. I'm not here to defend PCs, especially considering how Microsoft shot themselves in the foot over the last three years, but Apple has only a 6% market share for a reason: perceived costs vs utility. Heck, I'd rather run Ubuntu on decent hardware than Windows or OS-X, but I can't because the engineering software I use is only written for Windows. (And no, given the mission critical needs, we can't risk running it on an emulator on another OS).
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
10/23/2014 | 3:18:54 PM
Re: Apple's Mac Surge
@steve

My experience is similar. Both as an undergrad and grad student, I saw far more Apple computers than anything else. I always pay attention to what kind of devices people are using when I go to libraries, cafes and universities, and the vast majority of the time, MacBooks outnumber other PCs. This is definitely true around the Bay Area but also seems to be true when I go out of town. It's also true at  media and developer events-- way, way more Macs than anything else. The only times I see more Windows devices are at Microsoft conferences. At Monday's Azure event, I think I was the only reporter toting around a Surface. Everyone in my row had some kind of MacBook, except for one journalist who managed to do all his work with an iPad.

Despite my observations, the state of the economy reminds me that Macs must trail Windows by a pretty far margin in overall consumer market share. But I think a lot gets lost in translation if you just look at market share. Who buys computers and why is also a big factor when it comes to describing markets. As far as I can tell, when people are in financial position to choose, they choose Macs at an impressive clip.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 3:05:10 PM
A couple of points
Interesting article, but I just wanted to point out a couple of things:

1) I don't think Apple's share of actual usage has ever been below 10%, though maybe their 'market share' was in those numbers at many points. Market share is deceptive because it just includes some percentage of tracked sales figures and often isn't indicitave of actual in-use share at any point (though obviously there is some correlation).

2) Regarding the iPad... I think as discussed in another recent article, the slow-down *should* be and have been expected. The fact that this seems to have surprised some is more a reflection of their thinking, not something Apple has or has not done wrong. But, also keep in mind that at least for the previous quarter, a lot of people were holding off on buying one. So, we'll see what the trend says after another quarter or two (next quarter will be hard to tell because of the holidays).
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 2:58:52 PM
Re: Apple's Mac Surge
I suppose it depends on the major, but I spent 4 years, a couple years back in grad-school and Macs were  easily over 50% before I graduated (and maybe only 30% when I started). So, if what we're seeing in schools has any bearing on the future, I'm guessing the trend is just getting started.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 2:50:03 PM
Re: Smart tactic
@ moonwatcher - your first couple sentences were spot-on... and then you went off the rails.

I've been an IT consultant and Sr. Fortune 100 IT professional for almost 25 years, and I typically buy Mac because they are more productive for me by a good margin. It is NOT because I'm a clueless consumer or fooled by it overcoming simple issues, etc. That you think so, ultimately shows your ignorance. It is nice how well all their devices work together, but who wouldn't want that? Sheesh!
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 2:43:09 PM
Re: Smart tactic
My guess is that it has very little to do with the price drop. People who are going to buy a Mac appreciate the savings, but we typically buy them because of excellent hardware and the OS.
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