The Back Page - Dvorak: Mac Platform Stagnant; Cheap Mac Needed
by - December 29th, 2004
John C. Dvorak has a new column about Apple in which he said "the Mac platform is essentially stagnant." The problem, according to Mr. Dvorak, is "Apple's inability to make the Mac a commodity computer by pricing it to compete with PCs made inexpensively in China and selling with razor-thin margins." In other words, Mr. Dvorak is making the case for a cheap Mac.
In his column, Mr. Dvorak laid out his case by pointing out that the Mac platform currently accounts for some 2.7% of global online activity according to W3Schools, an online tutorial site that focuses on teaching people to develop Web sites for Internet Explorer. The organization tracks global usage, though its methodology is not publicize, and has published stats for global browser and operating system usage back to 2002 and 2003 respectively.
W3Schools' data, therefore, measures market share in terms of actual usage and not in terms of sales of new computers. Looking at that data, Mr. Dvorak found that Windows usage is above 90%, while Linux usage is up to 3.1% and Mac usage is now at 2.7%, third in the pack.
That measure, according to the column, indicates that things are going poorly for the Mac platform, and it all comes down to Apple's refusal to make a cheap Mac.
According to Mr. Dvorak, that refusal is being fueled, in part, by the success of the iPod which simply reinforces Apple's quaint thought that it can sell high-margin items at a premium.
Mr. Dvorak wrote: "What goes on at Apple planning sessions when market-share issues come up? Some executives probably proclaim that three percent of this market is 'huge!!' Others nod their heads in agreement. And indeed, three percent is huge. But at some point (which may have been reached already), declining market share creates a relative lack of interest, and eventually, discontinuance. The Amiga fell prey to this."
Ironically, however, he strategically leaves out one very important piece of information, as I did when setting up Mr. Dvorak's premise. That piece of information is that while W3Schools does indeed say that the Mac platform accounts for 2.7% of Internet activity, the organization's data shows that said usage has grown to 2.7%, up from 1.8% in March of 2003.
I don't know where the organization gets its data, but the trend that data shows is clear: The Mac platform is growing. That might indicate that Apple can, indeed, sell Macs at a premium.
That's not to say that Apple couldn't grow market share from offering a cheap, headless Mac. It would be ideal for capturing new sales from iPod users, the vaunted and oft-touted iPod Halo Effect, looking to move to the Mac platform.
Be that as it may, however, you can't look to W3School's data to back up the notion that the Mac platform is "essentially stagnant."
I would like to point out, however, that this is not a slam on John C. Dvorak's column. In this piece, he is offering a fairly honest assessment of the Mac platform and Apple's ability to grow market share, and it's not his normal "rile up the Mac masses" stuff he so often writes. His means at arriving at his conclusion may have been flawed, but the rest of his ideas at least merit consideration.
began using Apple computers in 1983 in a high school BASIC programming class. He started using Macs in 1990 when the Kinko's guy taught him how to use Aldus PageMaker, finally buying a Power Computing Power 100 in 1995. Today, Bryan is the Editor of The Mac Observer, and has contributed to the print versions of MacAddict and MacFormat (UK).
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