Mac Attack

on September 17, 2012

At the Apple Special Event held on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, Tim Cook announced these facts regarding Apple’s Mac Computers:

1) Mac notebooks rank #1 in market share in the U.S. for the last 3 months.
2) Mac notebooks had 27% market share in July.
3) The Mac has outgrown the PC for 6 straight years.
4) The difference in the rate of growth between the Mac and the PC for the last quarter was significant – 15% to 2%

Four observations:

First, I think we can somewhat discount points 3 and 4, above. The Mac is growing from a smaller base, so it’s mathematically easier for its percentage growth to be greater than that of the PC.

Second, Apple is cherry picking their most favorable numbers here since this is only in the U.S. and it’s only notebooks. Still 27% notebook market share in the U.S. is significant. Notebooks are where the action is in PCs today and the U.S. is an important market. With 27% sales, the Mac should no longer be deemed a “niche” product.

Third, there isn’t a Mac sold for less than $999. Apple’s critics are always harping on the fact that Macs are too expensive but consumers obviously don’t think that is much of an issue.

Fourth and finally, if Mac notebook market share is #1 in the U.S. for the past 3 months, where does that leave, Dell, HP, Asus, Toshiba, Sony, Lenovo, Acer, etc? As noted before, the Mac is sold for $999 and up. It’s always maintained high margins while most other computer manufacturers have been involved in a profit destroying “race to the bottom”. If the Mac, which dominates in margins, is starting to take market share too, there will simply be no profits left for the other PC manufacturers. They’re surviving on crumbs already.

The PC industry is losing unit sales to the iPad from below and having their profits skimmed by the Mac from above. Based on the facts that we currently have, that trend is only going to accelerate. What are the PC manufacturers to do?

Ultrabooks have not been the answer…yet. So I can only assume that PC manufacturers are putting most of their faith in the various Windows 8 tablet form factors. That’s an awful lot of “eggs” in just one basket. Will customers “shell” out the big bucks for the new PC form factors? Or will the the “yolk” be on the PC manufacturers?