Image Credit: Apple
Needham analyst Charlie Wolf notes that Macintosh sales appear to defy the laws of economics. That is, while PC prices have gone down and Macs became relatively more expensive, Mac market share has increased.
There are several obvious reasons for this. PCs have historically been very difficult to manage for home users. OS upgrades have been so difficult and expensive, a new OS is obtained only (and often grudgingly) with the purchase of a new PC. That primed the pump of disgruntlement.
Then, in 2010, the iPad ushered in the post-PC era causing PC sales to eventually plummet. Meanwhile, iPhone and iPad buyers who needed a PC-type of product figured that if Apple can do such a good job with those iOS products, a Mac is a good thing to look at as well. Apple's retail stores make that easy. It's the reverse halo effect.
The fact is, a notebook or desktop computer is still a necessity for many users. Not all, but many. This type of computing device can have a large display, perhaps two, and make life easier for many kinds of creative and management tasks. The question is, what's a good choice for those kinds of activities? A Mac does a great job and is pleasant to use. It exudes quality plus simplicity, and guess what? They're on majestic display right next to the iPads and iPhones in a local Apple store.
I think the bigger question is where this is all this leading? I surmise that the PC vendors, without growth, are dismayed. There's no money to be made selling PCs these days, and so only those who have a viable foreign market like Lenovo can make good money. Everyone else in the U.S. will, I believe, eventually throw in the towel for financial reasons.
In contrast, Apple has a built-in profit mechanism in the Mac. Apple is dedicated to making the best, and as the article linked to above points out, the average Mac price is US$700 more than competing machines. Apple has no financial incentive to stop making Macs.
Moreover, because the Mac can still do things that at standard iPad cannot do, there's no sign that Apple wants to eviscerate the Mac by turning it into some kind of super hybrid tablet. Here's the story on that: "Phil Schiller Says Merging OS X And iOS Would Be A ‘Waste Of Energy’" That's a comforting perspective by Mr. Schiller.
As a result, the Mac as we know it can be expected to be more and more useful to users who have opted for Apple products and Apple continues to make good money selling them. A steadily advancing, focused and free OS X makes the proposition even more compelling. Look to the late 2013 Mac Pro for Apple's sense of direction. I think that at some point, in a few years, when the PC market is in really bad shape, (and even Proctor and Gamble is selling its own tablet) one in four or even one in three PCs sold in the U.S. could be the super Mac of the future.
And it will be a sight to behold.
The week's Tech News Debris, especially good in this edition, continues on page 2.