Apple's Not Missing its Mac Opportunity

| About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

By Carl Howe

[Photo featured on the front of Sunday's New York Times]

This weekend's New York Times had what I thought was a seriously flawed article written by Randall Stross titled, A Window of Opportunity for Macs, Soon to Close. In that article, Stross trots out the old canard of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) three percent market share in the PC industry, and blames it all on Apple missing an opportunity to distribute its wares through Best Buy and other big box retailers when Windows Vista was sucking wind (i.e., most of this year). He also adds the following throw-away:

Apple has not even begun to try to re-enter another domain from which it had withdrawn its Mac sales teams: large corporations. Given such strategic decisions, the Mac has limited room to expand.

With that out of the way, Stross declares that that improvements in Vista will soon lock Apple out of the market because it will become unstoppable. Cue the Darth Vader theme, end of story.

So I was most amused Monday morning to read a series of headlines that seem to refute this screed, I'll just run down three of them:

  • Apple's market share is rising. Ars Technica notes recent studies that say Apple's US notebook computer market share was 17% in the last quarter, and 28% of prospective buyers are planning to buy an Apple notebook in the next 90 days. That doesn't sound like retail channels are standing in the way of those buyers.
  • Switching trends are getting stronger. Jason Fry over at the Wall Street Journal considered switching to a Mac last week and asked for reader feedback. This week, he writes that readers pushed him overwhelmingly to make the switch -- and in the process cited Vista as the final straw that was pushing them out of the Microsoft camp.
  • Corporate use is growing despite Stross's arguments. Roger Ehrenberg at Information Arbitrage notes that consumers are forcing IT to accept Macs as corporate platforms because they just work better, in contrast to the typical "Do only what we let you, otherwise it might break!" IT philosophy. He concludes saying that corporate Mac adoption is "nothing if not inevitable."
  • But the first and best rebuttal to Stross's article came when I opened the Times newspaper on Sunday, and I was greeted with a large front page photo of a woman considering preventive surgery for possible future cancer. The article wasn't about computers or technology, but the photo (shown at the top of this article) told a very compelling story about Apple's increasing influence with consumers: she was using a MacBook Pro to do her research.