Apple's Window To Gain PC Market Share Is Narrowing

Windows 7 Won't Be Like Vista and Mac OS X Isn't Going Away Either

My recent blog post about the new Apple OS X Snow Leopard release not being enough to “beat” Windows 7 sparked quite a response from many Apple users. I understand that, when users are passionate about a product, brand and/or a company, as so many Apple users are. Apple’s always been successful at building loyalty with their customers.

But that doesn’t change my opinion about Windows 7. Just because Vista failed doesn’t mean Windows 7 will, and being a loyal Apple user and customer doesn’t alone make Windows 7 another warmed over Vista. As Windows 7 gains significant adoption amongst Microsoft users, as I believe it will, the opportunity for OS X to gain significant market share will become more difficult than during the days of Vista. That doesn’t mean Windows 7 will sway Apple users over to a Windows platform. It would take a pretty significant misstep by Apple and that’s not very likely to happen, especially in the near term with Snow Leopard's focus on the fundamentals of performance, optimization, and stability.

I thought one of the comments I received to the blog post about Snow Leopard was particularly well stated and thought out. So I’m reposting the comment, and my response to it, here on the main part of my blog. Both are a tad bit lengthy, more than is usually best suited for a blog post, but I think you’ll find it worth your time to read.

Comment by Anon

I was first introduced to your articles when you wrote about how the iPhone was doomed to failure and how the Windows mobile operating system was going to dominate the market. I then saw your articles predicting how Apple is continually making missteps at evolving its operating system.

Apple got me to try its OSX when it introduced Boot Camp. Apple immediately made me a fan of its operating system with its stability, ease of use, and customer service. Actually, the Apples OSX exceeded all of my expectations. Having grown up on Windows, I had no idea computers could run so reliably and easily. I’ve now upgraded my operating system by two ‘Cats’. What I found to be amazing is that the upgraded OS versions worked faster than the previous version on the same hardware. Now I understand the next version is going to be even faster and take up even less hard drive space! When I upgraded my Windows operating system, I had to upgrade my processor, hard drive, ram, and all of the other stuff to support the processor, hard drive, and ram.

When it comes to smartphones, I really don’t know any statistics but it seems all the talk is about the Blackberry, Pre, and iPhone. The Windows mobile operating system does not appear to me making any sort of headlines. I abandoned my Windows mobile device for a simple cell phone because it was more reliable. My nightmare experience caused me to have great reservations about ever buying a new smartphone. iPhone then exceeded all of my expectations. What’s really nice about the iPhone, is that the first and second generation iPhone owners (I am a first generation iPhone user) will get to enjoy all of the non-hardware related upgrades. I don’t have the hardware that supports AGPS, digital compass or 3G, but I will enjoy all of the other software related upgrades. When I had my Windows mobile device, they wanted me to pay for the upgrade that was going to current version work properly.

What I also like is that when I have a question about my Apple products, I can go into a store and have my questions answered by a real person, and believe it or not, its face-to-face.

You’ve made a lot of comments indicating Apple is going to fail and Apple failed to grow by the Vista misstep (By the way Apple’s sales increased during the recession and the Vista release while HP and Dell both experienced sales declines during the same period.). Apple seems to be offering a premium product that justifies it price with reliability and customer service, lest not forget with a touch of ‘Style’. Apple appears to be continually improving their products by making them more user friendly and reliable, not by adding features that don’t work or don’t need. Moreover, Apple does not make its older generation users feel like 3rd class citizens.

Microsoft lost me as a customer. I constantly hear of Windows users becoming Mac users. I rarely hear Mac users voluntarily become a Windows users. What you and Microsoft are failing to do is convincing me to give Windows another look. I am surprised Windows has not lost you as a customers since you seem to only have negative things to say about them except when you compare them against Macs. Tell me how utterly reliable Windows is, tell me how easy it is to maintain Windows, tell me something positive. Features don’t mean anything if they don’t work, especially if its a copy of a Mac feature. If you can’t tell me anything positive, don’t worry none of my friends who have ‘Switched‘ to Mac can reflect on anything positive about their Windows experience, either.

My response...

Thank you for your thoughtful and well stated views on OS X, Windows 7, SmartPhone OS's, etc.

I think if you re-read my blog post, you'll see that I'm not predicting the demise of OS X. Far from it. The point of view I'm offering is that Apple's opportunity to continue gaining significant market share from Windows is closing. I offer that perspective primarily for the following reasons:

* Apple's desktop market share has in fact receded during Q4 2008 and Q1 of 2009, from 8% to 7.4% according to a Gartner report in April 09. This while the overall PC market experienced a slowdown of 6.5%. (I don't know if Apple, Windows and Linux are all experiencing the same % slow down or if it varies.)

* My experiences with the Windows 7 beta and RC led me to believe Windows 7 will be accepted by consumers and businesses, as compared to the low adoption of Windows Vista. Those experiences are consistent with what many others testing Windows 7 have stated. The big unanswered question is whether Windows XP users will see enough reason to switch.

* The 2nd generation Vista kernel shipped in Windows Server 2008 has proven its stability and reliability as a server OS. Windows 7 is the 3rd generation of this kernel OS, which is in part why the Windows 7 beta and RC have been well received.

OS X is great OS and has proven much more stable and reliable than Vista. That's clear and not in dispute. Is Windows 7 as stable and reliable as OS X? Given Microsoft's history, probably not, but it is much improved and will likely prove to be stable enough to be accepted by most Microsoft customers.

The great thing about blogging is it’s an opportunity to put your thoughts, ideas and viewpoints out there in the bright light of day for all to discuss, debate and review. Blog posts would be uninteresting if I didn't. The "doomed" blog post I wrote a year and a half ago has not born out as predicted. The BB Storm also disappointed. Apple and the iPhone have proven to reshape the market and competitors’ Smartphone products. When I'm wrong, I'm wrong and I'll publicly state it. I now own an iPhone and I love it. It's the phone I recommend when asked and I also create software for the iPhone.

I understand your disappointment in Microsoft and how they lost you as a customer years ago. Being an early adopter and unofficial evangelist for Apple, since my first Apple II Plus and Mac Plus computers, I was very disappointed in Apple’s first generation OS… so much so that I migrated to Windows. Since Apple’s move to OS X, I haven’t switched back to the Mac as my primary platform but I again own an Apple computer, write software, and use Apple iPhone and iPod products. I can’t predicte you will someday change your views about Microsoft and become a Microsoft customer again, as I have for Apple’s products, but my experience shows it's possible.

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