The Apple Mac Takes Its Place In The Post-PC World

PC Resurgent

The PC market turnaround is real. ~ Bob O’Donnell (@bobodtech) 10/15/14

Q: IS THE PC MARKET TURNAROUND REAL?

A: No.

Macs are resurgent. Google Chrome is slowly gaining ground. However, sales of traditional personal notebook and desktop computers that run the Windows Operating System and are known as “PCs”, continue to falter.

3RDQMAC

In the second quarter of 2014, Apple’s Mac sales grew by 18% while overall PC sales declined by 1%.

In the third quarter of 2014, Apple’s Mac sales grew by 21% while overall PC sales declined by 1.7%.

MacvPCgrowth

On the other hand according to NPD, PCs went from 75% share to 68% in two years.

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Source: “PC market still shrinking, with smaller firms squeezed out“, Charles Arthur

Conflating Apple’s Mac, Google’s Chrome, and Windows powered PCs conceals, rather than reveals, what is happening in the personal computing category. PCs were expected to get a big bump in sales from the end of life of Windows XP. A bump occurred, but it hasn’t signified a recovery, it has only slowed the PC’s decline.

PC Dead

So you believe the Windows PC is dead? ~ Oren Kaufman (@HorhayAtAMD) 10/20/14

PCs dead? I think not…when are people going to finally wake up? ~ Bob O’Donnell (@bobodtech)

Q: IS THE PC DEAD?

No.

No reasonable, rational observer of the tech marketplace is claiming the PC is dead. That’s a straw man — an exaggerated depiction of an opposing argument easily disproven. However, there is nothing unreasonable or irrational in asserting the PC will never again regain its once preeminent position in computing. In 2006, the PC dominated computing with around 95% market share. Today, the PC is but one of three branches of computing and, in terms of market share, it is rapidly becoming the lessor of the three.

PCyoy

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Macs Resurgent

(T)his is claim chowder for those claiming death of PC form factor. ~ Oren Kaufman (@HorhayAtAMD) 10/20/14

Q: DO INCREASED MAC SALES REFUTE CLAIMS THE PC HAS LOST PREEMINENCE?

A: No.

Mac sales are up, but they are not increasing overall desktop and notebook sales. Instead, Mac sales seem to be displacing PC sales. Despite the increased Mac sales, notebooks and desktops as a whole continue to decline.

PCwoMac

iPads

Windows 8 launched during a time when lots of people said that tablets would kill the PC. Does anyone still think that? ~ Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) 9/30/14

Looks like AAPL made more money on PCs than tablets. What was that about the PC being dead again? ~ Bob O’Donnell (@bobodtech)

Q: DO INCREASED MAC SALES REFUTE CLAIMS IPADS/TABLETS HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACTED PC SALES?

No.

We have to keep things in perspective. PC sales are mildly declining. Smartphone sales are rapidly growing. Tablet sales are flat, but they still easily outsell PCs.

There are now close to twice as many iPads as Macs in use. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 9/22/14

Just think about that for a second. Macs have been around for 30 years. iPads have been around for 4 years. Yet already, there are twice as many iPads in use as there are Macs.

Despite the Mac’s recent surge and the iPad’s stalled growth, iPads easily outsell Macs and the iPad’s base is therefore growing much faster. Just look at the sales numbers. In the third quarter of 2014, Apple sold 39.3 million iPhones. They sold 12.3 million iPads. And, in a record breaking quarter, Apple sold 5.5 million Macs. That means the much criticized iPad is outselling Macs by more than 2-to-1 and iPhones are outselling Macs by more than 5-to-1. The surging Mac is not catching up. It’s falling further and further behind.

iPadoutsellMac

As the chart above shows, even though iPad sales are flat and Mac sales are surging, iPad sales are still, far, far greater than those of the Mac. The Mac is not going to help the notebook and desktop form factors reclaim their once dominant position in computing. Rather, with every passing day, the notebook and the desktop’s total share of the computing pie becomes ever smaller.

Next quarter, Apple will sell its billionth iOS device (around 950m so far) ~ Jan Dawson (@jandawson) 10/20/14

Apple will probably sell more iPhones & iPads this quarter than there are Macs in use (~80m). ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 10/20/14

IDC said worldwide PC shipments for the third quarter of 2014 were 78.5 million, down -1.7% year-over-year. ((IDC had an odd way of reporting this news. They said, “Global PC Shipments Exceed Forecast with Mild Improvement in Consumer Demand”. Translation? The decline wasn’t as bad as they expected it to be. But it was still a decline of 1.7%.))

Would not be surprised if 90 million iOS devices will ship next quarter. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco) 10/20/14

Let’s try to put the above information in perspective. Last quarter, the desktop and notebook form factor sold 78.5 million units. Next quarter it is likely iOS alone — the minority platform — will outsell the entire PC industry. Add in Android and “other” and it’s no contest.

Apple will pass 1bn cumulative iOS device sold this year. Android will pass 3bn. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 9/18/14

oldandnew

Macs But Not PCs

IMO Mac sales are increasing because Apple is great at leveraging their monopolies. iOS only works with OSX so Mac sales up. ~ Oren Kaufman (@HorhayAtAMD) 10/20/14

Q: WHY ARE MAC SALES RISING WHILE PC SALES ARE FALLING?

I’m certain the “Halo Effect” is a contributing factor to the Mac’s increased sales. The more iOS owners there are, the more likely it is some of them will choose a Mac as their next notebook or desktop computer.

I’m even more certain Apple’s “continuity” feature is going to make Macs ever more attractive to iOS users. The close integration between the iPhone, the iPad and the Mac, makes the Mac a natural choice for many iOS owners.

Having used Continuity, Handoff across MacBook, iPad and iPhone, I can say it’s awesome. I would have expected Microsoft to get there first. ~ Patrick Moorhead (@PatrickMoorhead) 10/23/14

But here is my pet theory as to why the Mac is growing while the PC continues to decline.

In 2006, almost anyone who owned a computer owned a PC. Today, we can choose between a PC and a variety of non-PC computing alternatives, including phones, tablets, Macs, etc. Many people feel little need to upgrade their existing PCs. Others feel no need to own a PC at all.

I still believe the traditional notebook and desktop form factor is overkill for most mainstream consumers. ~ Ben Bajarin

However, many people absolutely and positively need the power and flexibility provided by a notebook or desktop computer. These potential PC buyers differ from those in 2006. In 2006, the PC was (almost) the only game in town, so everybody got a PC. Power users got powerful PCs and people who needed minimal computing power purchased the cheapest PC they could find. Today, people who barely need a PC are opting for phones and tablets instead. That leaves only power PC users as a potential PC buyers.

The power user never has, and never will, buy a cheap PC. They know their computing needs will only be met by powerful computing machines. Here’s the important bit. Many power users are realizing if they’re going to be spending a thousand dollars and more for a computing device, the best PC…is a Mac.

In other words, for the budget conscious, the Mac compares poorly to the budget PC. But to the power conscious, the Mac compares very favorably to the top-of-the-line PC. Macs are a premium product and more and more, the only people buying notebooks and desktops are power users who are shopping for premium computing devices.

[pullquote]Increased Mac sales are not proof the PC form factor is becoming more popular. Rather, it is proof notebooks and desktops are becoming a premium niche[/pullquote]

In my opinion, Mac sales prove the exact opposite of what the “PC-IS-RESURGENT” crowd is contending. Increased Mac sales are not proof the PC form factor is becoming more popular. On the contrary, increased Mac sales are proof the PC form factor is becoming a premium niche.

Post-PC

Maybe we aren’t in a post-PC world. Maybe it’s an also-PC world. ~ Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) 10/20/14

Q: ARE WE IN SOMETHING OTHER THAN A POST-PC WORLD?

No.

If a person as informed and as intelligent as Farhad Manjoo doesn’t know what “Post-PC” means, then I’m guessing most of us don’t understand what the term means either.

The Stone Age did not end because we stopped using stones. The PC era isn’tending because we stopped using PCs. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco) 10/24/14

Post-PC does not mean the PC goes away. It does not mean we only use phones and tablets to do our computing. It simply means the PC is no longer the center of our computing universe.

“PCs are going to be like trucks,” Jobs said. “They are still going to be around.” However, he said, only “one out of x people will need them.” ~ AllThingsD, 2010

Emphasis added.

Apple has always emphasized the importance of the Mac in the post-PC world. Shortly after taking the reins at Apple, Tim Cook had this to say about the Mac:

[pullquote]As people walk away from the PC, it becomes clear that the Mac is what you want if you want a PC.[/pullquote]

And we haven’t given up on the Mac. A lot of people are throwing in the towel right now on the PC. We’re still spending an enormous amount on really great talent and people on the Macs of the future. And we have some really cool things coming out there. Because we believe as people walk away from the PC, it becomes clear that the Mac is what you want if you want a PC.

Two years later, that statement is looking mighty prescient.

Apple’s position is, whether it be a Mac or an iPad or an iPhone, people should use the right tool for the task at hand. In 2006, we owned one computing device. In 2015, we will own multiple computing devices. Truth be told, we already live in that reality today. Multiple computing devices are the norm not the exception.

Globally, the average connected devices per person is 2. In USA it is 2.8 ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin) 8/21/14

90% of students in the UK own both a laptop and a smartphone. A further 40% have a tablet computer ~ BBC News

Ironically, it was Bill Gates, in 2007, who predicted the multi-device computing world that we live in today:

Mossberg: What’s your device in five years that you’ll rely on the most?

Gates: I don’t think you’ll have one device.

I think you’ll have a full-screen device that you can carry around and you’ll do dramatically more reading off of that – yeah, I believe in the Tablet form factor…

…and then you’ll have the device that fits in your pocket…

…and then we’ll have the evolution of the portable machine. And the evolution of the phone will both be extremely high volume, complementary–that is, if you own one, you’re more likely to own the other.

~ AllThingsD

Now tell me, does that sound like the vision embodied by Microsoft’s 2-in-1 Surface ((If you think the Surface is doing well, you need to read this article by Mark Rogowsky and look at this chart by Jan Dawson.

Surface-financials

Source: THOUGHTS ON MICROSOFT’S Q3 2014 EARNINGS)) computer or does that sound more like the vision embodied by Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and Mac portfolio of computing devices? (And don’t forget the upcoming Apple Watch, either.)

To be honest, I don’t much care what your opinion is. The market is the only opinion that matters and the market has emphatically expressed its opinion by overwhelmingly voting for multiple devices. If you don’t think multi-device is the direction computing should be taking, argue with the market, not me.

Conclusion

I believe as we move further and further into the post-PC (or multi-computing device) era, two things are going to happen.

First, the base number of notebook and desktop computers will remain at, or near, current levels. However, the form factor’s overall share of the total number of personal computing devices will continue to shrink as phones and tablets rapidly spread across the globe.

Second, those who need less computing power will eschew the notebook and desktop form factor. Those who need the form factor, but eschew the power and complexity, will gravitate toward devices like the Chromebook. And those who need both the form factor and the power it embodies, will move towards Macs.

What was unthinkable only ten years ago is happening. The traditional Windows PC is being squeezed by Chromebooks from below and by Macs from above and is rapidly moving from monopoly to minority status. The Mac on the other hand is emerging from the shadow of the Windows PC and, among power users, is taking its place as the majority player. ((26.8% of the notebooks and desktops sold in the U.S. between July 4th and September 1st were Macs.))

Published by

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

386 thoughts on “The Apple Mac Takes Its Place In The Post-PC World”

  1. “However, there is nothing unreasonable or irrational in asserting that the PC will never again regain its once preeminent position in computing.”

    1. “If you need an 18 wheeler that can outcorner and outrun a Lambo, it’s the PC.”

      Getting back to the point of the article, more and more, those who need that kind of power are finding Windows to be a less desirable choice than some flavour of Unix. And MacOS remains one of the only flavours of unix that allows you to do your work without worrying about the nitty gritty details of the OS.

      1. Oh, I agree. Linux and Mac are both PC’s. Windows just has the largest ecosystem.
        I also agree that OSX is a fantastic Unix. My problem there is the limited, less flexible, hardware environment.

    2. You are mixing your own metaphor. Of course, Lambos are road vehicles, so I guess they would have to be “PCs”, albeit lighter ones. Probably high performance MacBooks, then, since they run both Windows and OS X. And since 18-wheeler typically don’t out corner or outrun Lambos, let’s not just pretend they all do; it would have to be a pretty special 18-wheeler, so my vote is the Mac Pro.

      Don’t worry about the “sealed system” aspect of Macs, since neither Lambo drivers nor 18-wheeler drivers typically tinker under the hood; they just like to drive. As Glaurung was saying, a “power user” may appreciate the precision and engineering of his vehicle, it’s road handling, it’s sport suspension, it’s gears, etc. As a computer user, he may use all sorts of system utilities and even the command line, to get as efficient as he can at all the jobs he uses his computer for. But he is no longer a hobbyist that tinkers with the computer or builds one…

      I suggest to you, that the hobbyist you so fondly think of as eschewing Macs because they are too rigid for him, has actually moved on to 3D printing.

      1. Lambo was intended to be a measure of performance, as opposed to capacity (trucks). An 18 wheeler that can outperform a Lambo is intended to indicate performance and capacity. No mixed metaphor.

        And if you think that needing to buy a new machine just because you bought a 4 GB, and your needs (or budget) changed and you want 8 GB, or if you want to switch to an SSD, or if you just want to maximize your spending money, is a good idea, then feel free to be wrong. If you care, you lose when this happens. If you don’t care, then just don’t worry about it. Traditionally, ‘power users’ like that freedom. And I agreed in large part with Glaurung.

        Why don’t I go into 3D printing? How do you know I didn’t? Or macramé, or plumbing? Huh?

        Meanwhile I have to go to the car dealer. I filled the ashtrays and need a new car. 🙂

        1. “And if you think that needing to buy a new machine just because you
          bought a 4 GB, and your needs (or budget) changed and you want 8 GB, or
          if you want to switch to an SSD,”

          It’s not nearly the problem you make it out to be. Because there’s a huge (HUGE) demand for used Apple machines, used Apple kit in good condition depreciates _very_ slowly. I could sell my 5 year old mac mini today for 100% of what I paid for it a year ago. Which would be just crazy if it was Windows hardware.

          If I buy the 4gig 2014 mac mini this year and next year discover I need the 8 gig one, all I have to do is buy the new one, then box up the old one and put it up for sale on Ebay or Amazon or wherever, and use the proceeds to pay the charge on my card for the new one. I will be out only a little bit more than the difference in cost between the two machines. Sure, it seems deeply unnatural for someone who’s used to buying RAM upgrade kits, but it works.

          When I see people on forums complaining about how upgrading an Imac offends them because they’re forced to “throw out” the monitor with the old computer, I wonder what alien world of waste and stupidity these people come from, that they actually throw away their perfectly good used electronics instead of selling them or passing them on to relatives.

          1. Thanks friend. I never sell PC’s, I donate them or pass them to family (yearly). The thought of go to THAT trouble gives me hives. Still, you must admit, selling a machine and putting the proceeds towards a new one is kind of like going from Mountain View to Cupertino via Tokio. 😉

        2. I usually use my Macs for five years; so no, it’s not quite a case of filling the ashtrays and looking for a new car, but thanks for the laugh.

          Rather, it’s 1) deciding no-one is going to smoke in my car in any case, so agreeing with the manufacturer that ashtrays can go (floppy drives?); and 2) deciding beforehand to buy either a five-seat sedan for family use (an all-in-one?), or a pickup for heavy-duty jobs.

          What I won’t be doing is either ripping the back seat out of my sedan or adding seats to the bed of my pick-up.

          As far as 3D Printing — I’m not so much interested in what computer tinkerers are now finding as alternative ways to use their time; I’m interested in what youth are beginning to do to fulfill their primary creative and engineering urges. They are building drones and creating custom prosthetic limbs, not chassis for hard drives or PCI cards.

          As John Kirk said above, the days of *building chassis for your computer components* are over. It’s now a niche. Just as every car owner once had to know a lot about the internal workings of a car, computer owners once needed to know more about the internal workings and deal with hardware maintenance. Kids used to build cars, then computers; now the sky’s the limit.

          1. So it was YOU that Apple consulted before killing the floppy drive! 🙂
            Really, who does Apple ever consult. They offer, you accept. As is. No questions asked.

            If adding a couple of RAM sticks, or having provision to do so, is a “major configuration change”, then you should stay out of the machine’s guts. Here you go, use it.

            And don’t forget (I never will) the two years (2009-2011) where there was no fast storage option on the MBP’s, and they removed the only means of adding it by removing Expresscard.

            As far as ‘most people’ goes…Not exclusively doing what ‘most people’ do is what makes the machine ‘personal’.

          2. Yeah, that was me — apple’s secret consultant 😉

            Oh, yeah, I ask plenty of questions. Such as, do I want a reliable machine from a company I trust, or a machine that throws in the kitchen sink for the sake of it?

            I also bought a coffee maker without a clock or a radio, because I just wanted good, you know, coffee.

    3. “Interoperability among platforms and brands” such a nebulous phrase. At least to me who has no pretensions of being a codehead. (I can replace the internal hard drive on my ’09 iMac but that’s as far as I dare go.)

      On my Mac, I can read/manipulate/compose/edit the exact same websites, email, document files, video and picture files, music, etc. that a Windows PC can. That’s enough interoperability for my needs, and I venture to guess, for most of the computing public as well.

      As to the tinkering power user (emphasis on ‘tinkering’) whose needs you advocate for, I am sorry to say but like the weekend garage tinkerer, that tribe is diminishing drastically. Which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t something I view to be a good thing. But it’s just one constituency that the computer industry will listen and cater to less and less.

  2. Ah, yes. Market forecasters in the age of the caveman used to base their forecasts on one car per family. Then the two car garage came into vogue. Nowadays, a lot of families have one car per driver. Albeit they weren’t all purchased new for the driver, the kids usually get hand-me-downs or used cars. But still, this meant a growth rate in car purchases that surpassed mere population numbers.

    I don’t think the shift from one computer per person to several devices per person has been fully internalized by the blogging/analyst class. The ceiling right now seems to be 3 per person (PC,tablet,smartphone) but it’s about to expand to 4 or more with wearables. There’s also a shift spearheaded by Apple towards a different type of integration; from independent devices to seamlessly interoperating devices where PCs, tablets, smartphones, and wearables are (smart) access points to the big computer in the cloud. I think it is that development, not the shift in PC buying patterns towards more powerful machines, that is driving the current spike in the Mac’s growth. (i.e. The Mac has always been an alternative for PC buyers looking for workhorse machines, why then are Mac sales rising at double digit rates and defying the overall PC trend only recently?)

    1. Great points about car ownership. You could take that even further and see that people who own cars might also own a motorcycle, bike and skateboard or other way to get around. So personal mobility is a nice analogy to how things are working out in our options with personal computers.

    2. I always liked Jobs’ car/truck metaphor, while his statement about “post-PC” has been taken far too literally by practically everybody. Every form factor still has plenty of growth ahead. Each is the “right” tool for a particular set of jobs, and full-on PCs are *not* overkill for some of the jobs the average person needs to do. Affluence is increasing world-wide while technology continues to get cheaper, and this single factor trumps any year-to-year shift in the sales mix.

      So iPads, Macs and probably even Windows PCs have plenty of growth ahead, and the trend will be towards more people owning a larger number of devices. Personally, I like Apple. It’s on a tear, and I think it’s probably unstoppable right now.

  3. Eclipse is the purest form of disruption. The insurgent’s army simply bypasses the incumbent’s castle. Like the Wehrmacht bypassed the Maginot Line. Or like microwaves topped stoves. Or iCs, intimate computers, dwarfing PCs.

  4. “Q: WHY ARE MAC SALES RISING WHILE PC SALES ARE FALLING?”

    I think there are several overlapping reasons for this, beyond the one you touch on. Some are boring, like how the Mac user base may have grown to the point where it’s starting to snowball. Many of the more interesting reasons have to do with Microsoft’s self-inflicted wounds. Three things off the top of my head:

    1 “The grass is greener across the road.” The end of XP support coincides with the only retail Windows OS available (8) being a horrible lemon. Now most people don’t give a damn about whether or not the OS is still supported. But some of them do care about being safe from malware… and all of them care about being able to run their apps (last week I ran into my first “the latest version won’t run on XP” message). People are being forced off the OS they’ve been using for the past decade, and they’re looking at all their options before making a move.

    2. “Wait, how do I log in again?” The radical change in the Windows 8 UI means that the “but this is what I know” lock in factor is less than it’s ever been. Switching to a mac has always meant re-learning how to use the computer… but for the first time, upgrading windows also means having to re-learn how to use the computer. In contrast, the overall Mac UI has remained stable and still relies on the WIMP paradigms that are standard in XP. Paradoxically, it might be easier to switch from XP to Mac than from XP to 8.

    3. “I hate my computer. There must be a reason why Mary *loves* her Mac.” The software experience on Windows is getting worse all the time. Just the other day I installed a printer driver for my mother and discovered that HP has stooped to adding browser hijackware as a default component. Clearly, unlike shareware developers, HP doesn’t need the hijackware money to keep the lights on (not when they can charge so much for ink). Instead, getting paid to install hijackware along with your app (or driver) has just become The Default, the way Things Are Done in the Windows world. Thankfully it remains not at all how things are done in the Mac world.

    A lot of little things like that have been going on for a long time now — like a slow drip of acid corroding away at the foundation of Windows’s ecosystem (said foundation being people’s willingness to stick with Windows). Lately it’s reached the tipping point, and a swelling tide of people are looking at the cost to upgrade from XP (which they hate) to 8 (which they will hate even more) vs the cost to switch to something unfamiliar and different, but which inspires love instead of hate.

    And once again, I find myself typing that all this is basically Microsoft’s own fault. Either they made poorly considered changes to basic UI, or they failed to garden their ecosystem (they could have prohibited OEMs from installing crap and trialware, for example, and they could have added hijackware and adware to Security Essentials’ virus definitions). Meanwhile, their competitor has stuck with the same basic UI and has devoted a lot of time and effort to keeping their ecosystem well weeded.

    Oh, one last thing, John:

    “according to NPD, PCs went from 75% share to 68% in two years.”

    “26.8% of the notebooks and desktops sold in the U.S. between July 4th and September 1st were Macs”

    Can you link to the sources for those?

    1. On November 1, 2012, I wrote an article entitled: “Windows 8′s Greatest Sin”

      http://techpinions.com/windows-8s-greatest-sin/11907

      This was the article’s concluding paragraph:

      “When you have an existing customer, the worst sin you can commit is to force that customer re-evaluate their past buying decisions. I’m quite sure that Windows 8 is going to sell a LOT of computers. However, many of those computer purchases may end up being Macs or iPads.”

      1. Thanks for the link, I had forgotten that article. So I guess we’re in agreement that the decline of Windows sales and the increase in Mac sales is overdetermined — lots of small factors adding up to one big trend.

        1. I agree that there are many, many factors causing people to move from traditional Windows PCs to Macs. It’s difficult to know for sure which factors are of more, and which factors are of less, importance.

          However, I think many have overlooked the fact that traditional notebook and desktop computers are becoming the haven of the power elite as the more casual user flees to phones and tablets. Accordingly, I wanted to focus much of the article’s attention on just that one reason why notebook and desktop users — who are becoming synonymous with power users — may be choosing to buy the premium Mac solution.

          1. Traditionally a ‘power user’ has never been afraid to tinker, especially in hardware. Calling sealed system users ‘power users’ definitely breaks with that tradition.

          2. “a ‘power user’ has never been afraid to tinker, especially in hardware. Calling sealed system users ‘power users’ definitely breaks with that tradition.”

            There are two different, only partially overlapping definitions of power user.

            On the one hand, we have people who care deeply about the specs of their machine, who overclock their CPU and/or put their current build into their forum signature. There are a lot of PC gamers in this segment, despite the fact that you no longer need a high end machine (or a high end video card) to run modern high end games. Many of those people don’t actually use all the power their machine has. A lot of them have very little idea of how much power they actually use/need, and are basically compensating for something, measuring their masculinity by measuring their computer specs. These people call themselves power users because it sounds good, and to differentiate themselves from the unwashed computer illiterates of the world.

            On the other hand, we have people who use apps that take all that their machine can give and go begging for more. They buy the most powerful machine they can get their hands on not because it has big, ego-stoking numbers attached to it, but because the apps they use (for work or for hobby) require gobs of compute. The latter group might prefer not to waste their valuable time with tinkering/unsealing the system when they can just pay for the fastest computer available, and then go back to doing what they bought the computer for in the first place. These people are called power users (regardless of what they call themselves) because they use all the power the computer has to offer.

          3. I can appreciate, and even agree with the sentiment of the second type of user. I also admit that I am showing my hardware bias here, but a power user, of either type, is not at all intimidated or reluctant to add memory, change a drive, or a video card. In fact, the first class you mention expects to do just that, while the other may upgrade as they go along, as needed.

            But I do agree with both classes you mention. It just strikes me as odd, as I said, sealed systems and all. Unless they a REALLY a power user and are willing to use a soldering iron. 🙂

          4. “It just strikes me as odd, as I said, sealed systems and all.”

            In which case you are not groking what I’m saying. Suppose you are a power user working for a fortune 500 company, doing 3d rendering or autocad work. You need a top notch machine to get the work done. But, if you open up the machine to upgrade the RAM, you will get a severe dressing down from HR and IT and you’d deserve it. Because you would be WASTING the company’s time faffing around with hardware instead of getting your work done. Taking care of the hardware is NOT YOUR JOB. Getting that autocad project completed on schedule is your job. The company has hired sysadmins and tech support staff to upgrade the RAM for you when necessary. Right?

            So, a self-employed power user who buys Apple hardware is basically hiring Apple to be their fortune 500 sysadmin.* They are treating the computer as a sealed box because they want to get their work done, and not waste their time with sysadmin tasks.

            Now there is a cultural divide between people who value their personal time the same way they value their professional time, and people who treat their personal time as being worth almost nothing. Some power users own Macs for their personal leisure computing. And I suspect that they by and large place a high value on their personal time (or else they buy those Macs which can be upgraded).

            * Of course, there are people who do the same with Dell or HP hardware
            as well — they spec the machine out when they buy it and then, when
            necessary, they buy a new machine instead of upgrading it. Same philosophy.

          5. When I worked for companies, I was one of the guys that was informally allowed to work on my machines. They looked the other way, usually because I saved them grief, but also because they knew they couldn’t stop me. But you’re generally right. The sysadmin should be performing the functions. The sysadmin is also designated by the owner of the machines.

            “So, a self-employed power user who buys Apple hardware is basically hiring Apple to be their fortune 500 sysadmin.* ”

            Wholeheartedly agree! I’ve caught a lot of flack (including from our author) on this EXACT position…Apple as the IT department. In your case you are hiring them (as if you had the option not to hire them for that service). I too am a self-employed individual. In my case I am the sole sysadmin, and I most certainly do NOT want them for that. They get in my way. And since I also know how to do these things for myself, they pick my pocket.

          6. “And since I also know how to do these things for myself, they pick my pocket.”

            In other words, you value your time significantly less than those who prefer to buy Apple gear. You are unwilling to pay extra for the greater convenience of being relieved of the burden of having to deal with what’s under the hood. And the power users who buy Apple kit are willing to pay for that greater convenience.

            Apple’s RAM upgrade prices (for those systems that can be upgraded by the owner) are a case in point — $100 for bumping 4gb to 8gb seems like a lot if you look at the delta between 4 and 8gb from Crucial. But it’s completely reasonable if you look at that delta and then add the value of the time it takes to go to Crucial.com, find the right memory kit, buy it, wait for it to arrive, and then insert it into the machine.

            All of which is a long-winded way of saying that Apple targets different customers from your typical hardware nerd. It’s tempting to say that it’s about different social classes, that Apple is only interested in selling to upper class customers, but that’s oversimplifying, I think. It’s about different social attitudes towards the value of time and money. It’s not that Apple’s ideal customer is ignorant of the guts of their computer, but that they don’t want to have to care about it, and are willing to pay more to not have to care.

          7. “In other words, you value your time significantly less than those who prefer to buy Apple gear.”

            “You are unwilling to pay extra for the greater convenience of being relieved of the burden of having to deal with what’s under the hood.”

            Respectfully, that’s patently wrong on both counts. It’s about keeping my options open, have it done MY way, on MY timing, and to maintain and upgrade as I see fit. I also have a lot of machines and I can, and do, re-commision components.
            You said it yourself, it’s about different attitudes. My reasons don’t have to be your reasons, so you shouldn’t judge them by the same metrics. These machines are ‘personal’.

            I’m also not advocating people having to become nerds, or care about the guts. It’s about not impeding the one’s that do. Apple does not necessarily know better ‘for me’. We have the same control issues, except that as owner of the machine, I choose not to relinquish it.

          8. “And since I also know how to do these things for myself, they pick my pocket.”

            What you’re doing is stepping over dollars to save nickels.

          9. If you read my reply to G-Q, you would have seen that this is not about money.
            I like nice looking things too, but my priorities are a) Compatibility b) Versatilty then everything else.

          10. It’s about time, which *is* money if you place any meaningful value on your personal time. I would have a) Time as my first priority, since that often translates to a cheaper long term cost, and of course don’t forget about the immediate opportunity cost. If your own time is not your first priority, then you’re wasting time, it’s really that simple. Of course, if you enjoy spending your time in the manner that you do, then that’s fine. But just admit that, rather than trying to sell me the notion that you’re saving money. You aren’t. The opportunity cost alone will see to that.

          11. I will admit it, if you admit that I can build a computer that has 80%of the MacPro performance for $2K. Since you insist on making this about money.

          12. If you’re willing to take the time figuring it out and building that computer, I’m sure you can do that. But you’re not saving money, you are simply spending time. If that’s how you enjoy spending your time, by all means, go for it.

          13. I believe you once told us that you built your own house. I won’t go into your reasons, those are yours and yours alone. Would you have used parts that only work from a single manufacturer?

          14. With some elements of construction this is the case, yes. You have to choose a manufacturer for a system (trust, reputation, quality) and use all their parts and they are typically made to work with that manufacturer’s system. For other elements the materials are standard (code/regulations) and can be swapped as needed. It’s a mix of closed systems and controlled standards, so to speak (it is all regulated, you can’t do whatever you want). Most of the real world is like this.

            Much like your BMW, some elements can be sourced from multiple vendors, while other parts cannot. We’ve had this conversation many times. You use all kinds of closed systems as well as ‘tools’ you know nothing about. It’s only when it comes to computing devices that you go on and on about ‘open’ and ‘knowing your tools’ and ‘control’, etc.

          15. And I can run all the OSX apps I need on that?

            Surely you understand how subjective your argument is, how do you measure that it’s 80 percent as good as a MacPro? By specs? By jobs-to-be-done? By long term productivity? By total cost of ownership? What about support issues or downtime? Surely your system isn’t going to experience zero downtime and have zero support issues. How much more time over a few years do we need to add to your 2 hour estimate to cover that? What info do we have about the expected life of your system? And so on.

          16. No OSX. Thought I’ve built a Hackintosh, I’m not going to play that game. Every update would break it. OSX is good, but, for me Win7/Win8 is just as good. Better perhaps, since it will support ALL hardware.

            I would have included OSX if it were licensable. So it’s WIn 8, BSD, or Linux. I do have a hexacore Linux machine running right now. You know, in case Apple puts MS out of business.

          17. You haven’t addressed the ongoing support issue/time/cost or how we’re measuring “80% of the MacPro performance”. What if your machine is really only 60 or 70 percent as good? And what if that last 20/30/40 percent is critical for the jobs I need to do? What’s your cost/time to build a machine that matches the MacPro? And what evidence do you have that it will perform as well over time?

          18. There are key cross platform programs that could be used and measured. Photoshop, Avid, Cinebench, compilation times of native compilers, spreadsheet calculations, etc. Yes, this might have the code base under one platform favoring one or the other measurement, but that counts as well.

            There was a time when Photoshop on Windows was full 64 bit, while on OSX it was 32 bit. That would have placed an unfair advantage for Windows, but not for the user of the Windows machine. It’s availability made it more efficient. Similar situations for Flash, which is optimized for DirectX on Windows. Since OSX doesn’t have DirectX, it was at a disadvantage, but the Windows user had 1/10th the CPU utilization. Still, why should the Windows user care. It worked better.

            I will grant you that market factors impact technology availability. It’s also why I favor the user over ANY company. No loyalty. Since I learned how to use my tools, for me, may the most versatile machine win. Also, since I learned to use my tools, I expect my machine to not impede me.

            Computers are versatile, the same machine ‘should’ be able to serve BOTH me and my mother in law. Ease of use and power are not mutually incompatible. Would you favor OSX removing the command line? Most users don’t use it…

          19. Okay, so we’re measuring the 80 percent by jobs-to-be-done, essentially productivity, and your machine has “80% of the MacPro performance”. So I’ll be kind and figure only a 10 percent reduction in productivity on your machine. Now, let’s imagine a designer who’s got about 1,500 hours of billable work to get through in a year at $150 per hour. Now, he saved roughly $6,000 up front by building your machine, but it doesn’t match the MacPro’s performance so he can only get through about 1,350 hours of work. That cost him $22,500. So he’s $16,500 in the hole. But hey, at least his machine isn’t impeding him. And we haven’t even figured in the opportunity cost, it gets much worse if we do that. And we don’t know how much time would need to spend on support issues throughout the year either. As I said, you’re stepping over dollars to save nickels.

          20. You’re neglecting whether the designer, or firm, already has an IT department that they are paying. You’re also neglecting, for instance, whether the shop needs Nvidia hardware (CUDA) which would automatically rule out the Mac Pro. Of course, if the Mac Pro weren’t limited by design, they could do this themselves. Overly proprietary products leave you beholden to the manufacturer. That’s not a safe position to be in. Nothing is more expensive than ‘you can’t do it’.

            In my case, and I suspect for may others, I don’t ‘bill’ myself at the same rate as I bill clients. Or to put it in other terms, my labor and expertise spent on myself are more liquid capital than money is. As a small business owner, I also sweep floors, do secretarial work, and many other tasks that don’t get billed at my normal rate. I understand, and even agree, with your accounting, but if I were to count all the other tasks I ‘shouldn’t be doing’ we’re really talking about some serious money.

          21. “You’re neglecting whether the designer, or firm, already has an IT department that they are paying. You’re also neglecting, for instance, whether the shop needs Nvidia hardware (CUDA) which would automatically rule out the Mac Pro.”

            Nope, I considered these issues (and more). The IT department has no impact on how much work your machine can help you chew through in a day. The Mac shops I know have no IT department anyway, yet another cost savings. In my real world example the Mac is the machine of choice. Sure in some imagined scenario where a MacPro won’t work, obviously don’t buy one.

            “In my case, and I suspect for may others, I don’t ‘bill’ myself at the same rate as I bill clients.”

            You should. In fact your time is even more valuable (opportunity cost). The savvy business people I know understand this.

            “As a small business owner, I also sweep floors, do secretarial work, and many other tasks that don’t get billed at my normal rate.”

            Support work that allows you to create billable work is necessary. That’s why your annual billable hours doesn’t equal your total hours worked. It can’t. That’s why I only used 1,500 hours in my example.

            “if I were to count all the other tasks I ‘shouldn’t be doing’ we’re really talking about some serious money.”

            You really do need to consider the value of your time and whether you actually should be sweeping floors and doing secretarial work.

          22. I read that article too.

            I would use i7’s, not Xeons. Today, it would likely be an octacore i7. Granted it’s eight cores rather than twelve, but they are clocked higher. I would also use gaming GPU’s.

            So for the top configuration, it’s $9600.

            Intel Core i7-5960X $899.00
            Mobo: $400
            RAM (32 GB-DDR4): $400.00
            Case: $150
            Dual 256 GB SSD (RAID 0): $500
            ASUS GeForce GTX Titan Z 12GB PCIe Video Card: $1499.00
            or
            ASUS Radeon R9 295X2 8GB PCI-Express Video Card $1568.00
            Power Supply: $300
            2 TB HD: $200
            Win 8.1: $100 (if you don’t have one already, you could retire a machine and use that)
            Total: $4017.00 or less, as described.

            As far as measuring performance, this isn’t a pure benchmark trial, since it’s cross platform. What you can do is measure applications that exist on both platforms, or ‘best of breed’ for each platform against each other. I’m reasonably confident 80% performance is achievable, either way.
            If you truly need/want a ‘workstation level’ machine, then I agree you get the Mac Pro. ‘No one got fired for buying Apple’. 🙂

          23. “Traditionally a ‘power user’ has never been afraid to tinker” – klahanas

            You’re talking about a past time. In the early days of the car, most everyone had to be a mechanic just to keep the car running. Today, cars are running longer and longer and almost no one without specialized equipment can fix them.

            The same is true of computers. People used to build them and upgrade them themselves. Today, computers have moved from the hands of the techno-elite into those of the mainstream. When I refer to a power user, I don’t refer to someone who “tinkers” with their computer. That group is so small as to be insignificant. I refer to those who need the power and flexibility of the computer. They are still many, but they are not growing. Most everyone who needs a powerful computer has one.

          24. And yet the programmers I work with who have Masters degrees in Comp Sci, and two are actually PhDs, all use Apple gear, both Mac and iOS. I think you have a very narrow definition of ‘power user’, one that aligns with your own experience.

          25. You keep bringing up degrees. Does a NASA engineer necessarily work on their plumbing? Some people choose to work on their plumbing.

          26. You keep propagating the notion that Apple is for people who don’t care about tech or aren’t power users/nerds, etc. I’m simply pointing out that many very high level ‘nerds’ or ‘power users’ prefer Apple gear.

          27. Linking to previous articles is a good idea, John. I hope it becomes am incurable habit.
            N/C
            mhikl

    2. In regards to point 3 above “I hate my computer”. I can totally understand why someone would feel that way. It is not just HP that is bundling in 3rd party adware software with their installers on Windows. Many others are doing the same thing. Adobe, Oracle, Lenovo all do this and by doing so junk up your average persons computer. This makes their user experience on Windows much worse than it has to be. So of course when they make the switch to Mac OS X systems they are a lot happier.

        1. Simple. Most users are able to use what comes built in so they do not need to get 3rd party drivers. As for bad software on OS X. Nothing can prevent that but it does seem that the same vendors that bundle in their adware rider software are not currently doing the same thing on Mac OS X. So far this is a great thing. Plus with so many things coming built in standard with Mac OS X users are not scrambling to find solutions to common computer tasks. Things like opening, creating and editing PDF files for example come built in.

          On Windows you have to install 3rd party software to do that. Many times when people look for that 3rd party software they do a quick Google search for “PDF viewer” or similar terms and end up with software that is loaded with malware. Or they look for free antivirus software and have the same problem. It is just way to easy for the average user to get jammed up on Windows so of course they are looking for options. The good news is that there is plenty of choice so they can get just the right about of computer that they need.

          1. Yes, it’s indeed a mess. Still, I don’t think there’s a substitute for knowing your tools. Vendors do load a lot of junk on new computers. They’re easy enough to remove, but you have to know how.

            On the other hand, there is a lot of software not included in OSX. This is not a dig, one company can’t do it all. You actually have to personally install Java, for instance. You also need to install a security suite (yes you need it). Uninstalling junk on the Mac is hit or miss when it comes to ease. There’s no central Add/Remove Programs, and some things don’t uninstall correctly when dragged to the trash.

            In all cases (Win, OSX, Linux, etc.) if you don’t know what your installing, you should not be installing it.

          2. Of course you should know your tools but the problem is that on Windows as you see Vendors do pre-load a lot of junk so that they can keep the cost down on systems. Also some of it is easy to remove and others can be a bit more difficult. Yes, you do need to know how and that is where the problems come in. Most users do not know how so then they end up getting a bill for having someone assist them with removing software that should have not ever been installed on the system in the 1st place.

            Yes. There is a lot of software not included in OS X but what is included is useful for a lot more people. As for getting Java, that really is not a problem as on OS X the system will detect if you need it because you have software that asks for it and it will automatically download and install it. The Java installer in this case just for Java and has none of that Ask toolbar nonsense and no system tray nagging asking you to install updates every week.

            As for installing a security suite I totally disagree. Most of them are junk on any platform and on Mac OS X the built in defaults on permissions are good enough for what most people need.

            Yes. It is true that uninstalling software on the Mac OS X can be a bit hit or miss but most software that I have used have an uninstaller that you can use. Also most software even if it does not get fully uninstalled is not a problem as it will not get in your way. This is unlike on Windows with the stupid registry where it over time it does need to be cleaned up as extra stuff getting installed causes the registry to grow in size slowing down the system along with making global changes that are at times next to impossible to roll backwards from. This is why running Windows in a virtual machine is such a great thing as you can have snapshots of the state of Windows and just roll back (after you backup your data of course).

            You are 100% correct that no matter what platform you are using, you do need to know what you are installing or not install it at all.

          3. Why would I ever need Java? I have used pc’s since ’84; hated the experience. Bought an iMac ’05. Never went back to PC’s never used or installed Java. Love my iMac. now own 3 iMacs, 4 iPads, 3 iPhones, Apple TV, and will buy another MacBook Air next month. No Java required.

          4. There could be multitudes of reasons to want/need something. That’s what makes these things personal.

        2. “How does OSX prevent bad software and drivers?”

          For drivers, by and large you don’t need to install drivers on OS X, the system determines what hardware has been plugged in and then goes and gets the drivers directly from Apple. So there’s no bundled crapware there. For apps from the Mac App Store, hijackware is obviously banned from the store. For apps downloaded from developer web sites, basically it’s cultural peer pressure — Mac users expect certain things from their software, and they are willing to pay for those things. Bundled crapware is not something they stand for.

  5. Thanks for all the “love” John–at least I think…;>
    I am actually in complete agreement with you regarding what I’ve been calling the multi-device era for probably almost five years now. In fact, I’ve given innumerable presentations on that exact topic and actually helped coin a phrase–smart connected devices (combining the markets for PCs, tablets and smartphones)–several years back that was intended to address that specific issue. Up until then, most industry discussions had been around one category or the other, and my argument had been that you can’t continue to do that and really understand the dynamics of each of these different elements–they have to be seen together. Happily, now more and more of the discussion of these markets includes that combined view.
    To understand my vigor on PCs, you need to understand that it wasn’t that long ago that a LOT of people were in fact arguing that PCs were dying. Right or wrong, many people interpreted Jobs’ “Post-PC Era” comments to, in fact, predict the demise of the category. My current comments are intended to be a reality check to that–in my opinion–flawed notion and to re-examine the whole state of smart connected devices (the combined group). In that light, personal computers (including both Macs and Windows-based devices) have an important role and will continue to make up a relatively significant portion of the total smart connected devices market. This is particularly true on the revenue side because of the higher average selling price of PCs versus both tablets and smartphones.

    1. “This is particularly true on the revenue side because of the higher
      average selling price of PCs versus both tablets and smartphones.”

      This one sentence undercuts the validity of all that you say before. Revenue doesn’t matter, profits matter, and the profit from selling most PCs is barely above zero. Contrast to phones, where profits have been massive.

      Also, the profits made after the sale of the PC hardware — the software installed on them basically — are likewise far lower than those made after the sale of phones. I doubt the profit from all software installed on a typical PC over its lifetime adds up to the cost of the hardware itself. Quite unlike phones, where carrier profits are so huge that even rather expensive phones can be given away for free, and where the carrier profit per phone vastly eclipses the cost of the hardware.

      1. “the profit from selling most PCs is barely above zero” – Glaurung-Quena

        That may be true for some, or even most, but the Mac’s average selling price are much higher than those of the iPad.

    2. “To understand my vigor on PCs, you need to understand that it wasn’t that long ago that a LOT of people were in fact arguing that PCs were dying.” – Bob O’Donnell

      I think we’re much more in agreement than disagreement. Like you, I recognize that the claims that the PC are dead are overblown. However, I began to feel that counter-claims stating that the PC was resurgent were also beginning to become misleading.

      To me, the two most intriguing parts of my article were the quotes by Tim Cook and Bill Gates. Tim Cook made it clear that the Mac has a future in the post-PC world. And Gates made it clear (in 2007) that the future of computing involved multiple devices. I heartily agree with both points of view which are really the same point of view. The notebook and desktop form factors may no long be dominant, but they still play a vital role in the post-PC world.

      1. To also add another great mind’s point of view (though not as precisely relevant to this debate), Steve Jobs said, on his return to Apple as CEO: “Microsoft does not have to fail in order for Apple to succeed, Apple just needs to start making ‘insanely great’ products”. What great foresight, compassion and clarity of vision!

  6. Sales of PCs may be down, but with good reason: they don’t need to be replaced as often. And the recession certainly put a damper on new corp sales, because the hardware was good enough to get us through the down time.

    I work with a PC at my office. Mac at home office. My office PC used to be replaced every two years to keep up with advancements in speed, performance and reliability. But in the last six years, my office PC has worked just fine and is only now being replaced. Same thing across our company PC landscape.

    On the other hand, my home office Mac needs replacement every three years. I’m ok with that because advancement in Mac software is outpacing basic PC software.

    It’s no wonder that MS Office is still a huge seller. No so much on new PCs, but upgrading to older hardware is where the action is.

    1. “Sales of PCs may be down, but with good reason: they don’t need to be replaced as often” – jayarr8

      My argument is that many notebooks and desktops are never going to be replaced at all. Phones and tablets will do the job for many. And those who do replace their computers will be the power users so the average power, and the average price of the computer will continue to rise until only those who need the power inherent in the notebook and desktop are replacing them.

      1. “My argument is that many notebooks and desktops are never going to be replaced at all.”

        Maybe, maybe not. Clearly those overserving PCs are being kept, and I assume used occasionally for tasks that are not yet possible on tablets/phones. What happens when they finally stop working? Maybe by then the task they’re being kept for will be possible on mobile devices. Maybe the owners will realize they don’t need to do the thing they were keeping the notebook for after all. Or maybe they’ll decide they do still need a notebook even if they only use it once a month, and they will replace it.

        One factor that Apple has not yet addressed that’s keeping those old PCs relevant is storage. The bump in storage for Idevices this year helped, but you can still cram a lot more on a dinky notebook than you can possibly fit on an Idevice. My mother’s notebook has 80gb of photos on it right now, in a few years it’s going to top 100gb. That’s really the only thing that’s making it impossible for me to tell her “get a keyboard case for your ipad and ditch the laptop, you’ll be happier and less frustrated.”

        At some point, I think Apple will have to come up with a way to plug an external hard drive into an Ipad, directly or via a router, and an IOS app for getting the data you want (whether its music of photos or powerpoint presentations) off that backup drive and onto your Ipad.

        1. Apple is never going to “plug an external hard drive into an iPad”. All the storage is being moved to the Cloud.

          1. And given the choice of trusting Dropbox or Apple to keep your pictures safe, vs keeping a PC around, I suspect a lot of people are going to keep a PC around. Especially if you continue to have to pay a monthly fee for large amounts of cloud storage.

          2. We’ve had this particular snippet of discussion many times, and it has been pointed out almost every time that easily portable storage is available that wirelessly serves all the current personal computing devices via ad-hoc WiFi or Usb or (usually) both, for those who choose not to avail themselves of Cloud services.

          3. “given the choice of trusting Dropbox or Apple to keep your pictures safe, vs keeping a PC around, I suspect a lot of people are going to keep a PC around” – Glaurung-Quena

            I suspect you’e very, very wrong. Time will tell.

  7. Once again, the stats in this article are misleading. The author flip flops between comparing PCs as a form factor relative to tablets (and then smartphones) and PCs with a featured OS. He also still continues to conflate tablet and iPad sales and then again contorts to compare the iPad to sales of PCs in relation to any 1 (maybe two) PC OEMs. And THEN compares all iOS sales to all PC sales, which creates a skewed idea of how the iPad as a computing device compares to the generalized PC market.

    Let’s start with the basic premise that phones IN GENERAL have outsold the PC for a pretty long while now. Yes, this includes pre-smartphone. In fact, smartphones are displacing the current installed feature phone base. Phones have been a far greater market than PCs for a long time. We can only compare them now because smartphones are indeed now true computing devices, though the FAR OVERWHELMING number of them are still used pretty much the same way as feature phones. And, despite the optimistic projections for future proliferation of broadband, that will be the case far into the forseeable future.

    As for the stats.

    1. iPads and tablet sales are a conflation that don’t reflect the actual usage models. If you need a big name analyst to confirm this, both Ben Bajarin and Benedict Evans have taken the same stance. Ben Bajarin intends to offer future stats that break out the iPad tablet market from the Andriod/other tablet market as the former is used primarily as computing devices while the latter are used almost exclusively as UNCONNECTED media players/TVs;

    2. If you compare the iPad as a form factor to PCs, the PC, even in decline is far outselling it. Both laptops and desktops AS INDIVIDUAL CATEGORIES outsell the iPad between 2-to-1 to 3-to-1. The iPad is a huge business and Apple AS A MANUFACTURER compares favorably to any of the OEMs. But the iPad AS A CLASS OF DEVICE still trails the PC by a significant margin;

    3. Unlike tablets, Macs and Windows PCs have identical usage models. Distinguishing Mac sales from PC sales is useful when comparing Apple as a manufacturer to other PC OEMS, but useless from a form factor standpont. As far as form factors go, the Mac IS a “PC” in that it features a pixel-precise primary input and a keyboard as a co-primary input, which differentiates it from tablets or smartphones in which finger-precise touch is the primary input. Also, as previously stated, its usage model is identical to Windows-based PCs;

    4. There are many PCs with comparable build quality to the Mac so the “premium” aspect of the Mac is not the hardware but OS X, its software. This makes distinguishing Macs from PCs not a sales comparison, but a UX comparison. This suggests that improvements in the UX of Windows would allow it to compete more effectively with OS X-based PCs. Comparing sales of PCs to Macs is a superficial exercise when the real comparison should be OS X to Windows.

    To sum, the article is, at the very least, disingenuous. For all practical purposes, the Mac IS a PC. The iPad sells in far fewer numbers than laptops or desktops as a category. As for Chromebooks, they sell in paltry numbers compared to PCs; once again, it’s not even close.

    So, while I agree with the overall premise of this article, the PC is still a completely relevant device. For months, tech analysts and pundits said the PC was “dead’ and that the tablet had killed it. The numbers now show that isn’t the case. It was apparent to some that multiple devices was the way the future was going to play out. But, in this case, it was the public that first made the case. The analysts and pundits seem to be just now catching on.

    1. Speaking of disingenuous, James, I take umbrage at your remarks. This is the second week in a row where you’ve all but called me a liar. A couple of things for you to reflect upon.

      First, no one else seems to have had any difficulty in understanding the distinctions I was making.

      Second, all my charts are clearly marked. I worked very hard to distinguish when I was speaking about iOS, OS X, Windows, iPads, tablets, non-Windows notebooks and desktops and Windows PCs, etc. If you refuse to read what is clearly written, then the problem lies with you, not with my article.

      “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.” ~ Anonymous

      1. I understand what you’ve written perfectly well. And if I wanted to call you a liar, I’d just do it flat out. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt but it seems to me you are playing fast and loose with the facts.

        As always, that is your prerogative. You weave very interesting tales in any case. But you don’t need to dissemble to make your points. It’s apparent that a) you are a fan of Apple and b) you are a fan of tablets or, at least, the iPad. You can make a pretty compelling case for both without resorting to distortions.

        1. “Dissemble” means to “conceal one’s true motives, feelings, or beliefs.”

          “Distortion” is “the action of giving a misleading account or impression”.

          I suggest you consult a dictionary before you post your next comment.

          You say I’m “playing fast and loose” with the facts. If you find mistakes in the facts I presented or if you find additional facts that contradict the facts I’ve presented, then we can talk. Otherwise, this conversation is over.

          1. Dissemble : To make a false show of; feign; from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

            Distortion: A statement that twists fact; a misrepresentation; from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

            I suggest you not be so pedantic in challenging my understanding.

            I’ve already clarified your facts. Now they present an accurate picture.

            We’re done now.

          2. Gotta assume you are referencing Kirk with this statement or you, like him, completely missed my initial post in which I very much provide contradictory evidence to his facts.

  8. John, are you taking the short-term view at the expense of the long-term?

    The iPhone is a convergence device: phone, email, music, map, camera, etc. It didn’t always make sense for the phone to be a convergence device, but it made sense for the iPhone and subsequently all smartphones to follow.

    As Microsoft’s Surface showed, the time is not quite right for tablets and laptops to converge. But as the Surface Pro 3’s improving sales have shown, we are getting closer to that point.

    Is there any question that someday they will? For the tech power user who have no problems spending money on multiple devices — the best device for the task — that’s fine. Just like how I’m sure you use a DSLR instead of your iPhone for photos; and an MP3 player with more storage and dedicated controls instead of your iPhone for music; and a portable device with a keyboard instead of your iPhone for email.

    But for the vast majority of people who have light computing needs, they’d like to save money. And it just doesn’t make sense to have both a 11-inch laptop and a 10-inch iPad when the iPad can in reality do 90% of the laptop’s job…especially with a keyboard accessory.

    The market is showing success for multiple devices today…(is it though with both tablet and laptop sales in maturing markets flat?)…but that does NOT mean it’s the future.

    1. Jeff, I don’t think the tablet and the PC are converging in any way. Touch input is incompatible with pixel specific input. And if you think the Surface is doing well, read footnote #2.

      But this debate should be argued another day in another article. 🙂

      1. Tablets and PCs won’t converge because they have different implementations of input? How do we expect to solve global warming if we can’t even fix that. 🙂

        1. Postscript: I didn’t say the Surface is doing well, I said it’s doing better — both commercially and critically. It’s a reflection that technology is getting us closer to that convergence point.

          1. Just be aware that as a universal rule, something getting closer should never be taken to imply that it is guaranteed to get there. Sales of surface type products might keep on rising until it becomes a significant form factor, or it could stall at some point and stay there, or die.

            There’s also this underlying assumption that Apple will never ever make a hybrid tablet/laptop even if it proves to be a successful product. From out here, it certainly looks like Apple gets pretty religious about its products. But if you look closely it’s a fickle religiosity, they only worship idols that are successful in the market. Apple just doesn’t believe, right now, that hybrids are a viable product. As soon as they discover that they are wrong (if they are wrong) they’ll start working seriously on a hybrid.

          2. I’d say it’s a pretty sure bet Apple already has all kinds of hybrids in their labs, as well as larger screen iPads. Apple works on lots of things that never get released.

      2. “footnote #2”

        Considering a lot of us didn’t think they would ever flip revenue and cost of revenue levels, much less get gross margins in the black… er… orange, Surface is certainly doing better.

        Joe

  9. The whole narrative around how smartphones and tablets and our new post-PC world has drowned out other explanations for the decline in PC sales. At every company and institution I have worked with, PC’s being used longer than ever before. Hardware lasts longer (or remains useful longer) and traditional PC software has stagnated. For many, many users, there are few reasons to replace a working PC.

    Even though all of these companies and institutions have embraced smartphones and tablets, their purchases have not displaced traditional PC’s (and where there was replacement, it was well below 1-to-1). Smartphones and tablets are primarily being purchased for new use cases and I rarely see the spending on these devices being the reason for not buying new PCs. The traditional PC’s usage is not growing because the existing market is saturated and there have been very, very few compelling new uses for PCs. And with the possible exception of Chromebooks, there has been very little recent effort to remove barriers to entry for new users (in fact, one could argue Windows 8 adds barriers for new users).

  10. “Second, those who need less computing power will eschew the notebook and desktop form factor. Those who need the form factor, but eschew the power and complexity, will gravitate toward devices like the Chromebook. And those who need both the form factor and the power it embodies, will move towards Macs.”

    This is very interesting. I’m curious if Apple will come out with a product to compete with the Chromebook category. Think of a product wrapped in a MBA form factor, with a 12″ retina screen, an Apple designed A-series processor, running a version of OSX that is “legacy-free”; meaning it only runs apps from the Mac app store. All for a starting price of say $699 / $799.

    Obviously since this product won’t be a full-blown Mac and won’t be an iPad but will have its own branding (ie” iBook). That may help fulfill the need for a buyer looking for an Apple product in a laptop form factor but doesn’t need the power / complexity of a full-blown Mac.

    1. “I’m curious if Apple will come out with a product to compete with the Chromebook category.” – Shameer Mulji

      Predicting what Apple will do is always hazardous but I don’t think Apple has any intention of creating a Chromebook competitor (unless it’s another iteration of the tablet.).

      Apple focuses on the premium end of the market. They want to make the best phone, they want to make the best tablet, they want to make the best notebooks and desktops. There are no margins in the Chromebook and more importantly, from Apple’s perspective, there is no point in making one. The Chromebook serves a certain portion of the market well, but that’s not the portion of the market that Apple targets.

    2. A 64GB iPad Air2 is $599. You really think Apple will come out with a device with a much larger screen and keyboard and only charge $100 more? There is not enough pricing space before you run into the 11″ MBA.

      1. I’m not talking about a device that would sit between an iPad and an MBA. I’m talking about a device that would cannibalize the MBA and sit between the iPad and MBP.

        1. Fine, but said device will not start at $699 and how is a something more expensive and in many ways less useful than an 11″ MBA going to grow sales? The more likely scenario is they make the 11″ MBA less expensive.

          1. Less useful is in the eye of the beholder. One of the reasons, other than price, that Chromebooks are becoming popular is the simplicity of using the device wrapped in a notebook form factor. That’s the type of device I’m pontificating about.

            Not everyone wants the power of a Mac but still want something more capable than yet as simple as an iPad. That way you have the following;

            iPad – for those that don’t need power & crave simplicity
            iBook – for those that want simplicity in a notebook form factor
            MBP – for those that want / need power, complexity, & flexibility.

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