Various sources have pinned Apple’s share of the PC market at 1.8-7%. Personal computers have become a low cost commodity since the beginning of the decade, but one of Apple’s competitive advantages is the company’s strength in industrial design. Apple products, such as the iPod and the Mac mini, are seen as trendsetters and enjoy a loyal fan base.
Apple originally announced the transition from IBM’s Power PC microprocessors to Intel’s processors in the summer of 2005. When Apple made the original announcement, the company expected to transition only low end products such as the Mac mini to Intel’s processors by mid-2006, and higher end computers were to transition by mid-2007. But in fact the company has successfully migrated the iMac, Mac mini, and the higher end MacBook Pro to Intel’s Core Duo processors.
Apple has introduced a new twist to selling its PC’s by offering a free public beta of Boot Camp for download. Boot Camp is a software program that lets Mac users with Intel hardware run the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. Mac users can switch between the two operating systems easily and Boot Camp includes all the necessary Windows drivers for the hardware to function at full speed. Apple has made two choices that have tied together three of the computer worlds biggest powerhouses, the first to use Intel hardware and the second to open the hybrid Apple-Intel PC’s to Microsoft Windows XP. The implications of Apple’s move could be huge.
Several years down the line, Apple could seriously pose a threat to companies like Dell, Inc. (DELL) if the right strategy were executed. Think of your options as a mainstream PC purchaser for a moment:
Apple can sell you a well designed, moderately priced computer, with the option to run two major consumer operating systems. A normal PC, purchased from the likes of Dell for example, is limited to the Windows operating system. There is currently no way for a Windows PC user to natively run any version of an Apple operating system. Apple has created a one-way street that it can control and has decided to open the floodgates to the company’s industrial design catalogue to all PC users.
I personally have desired a MacBook Pro and a Mac mini for awhile, but the lack of ability to natively run my Windows applications has kept me from purchasing it. Needless to say, during my next upgrade cycle, I will definitely consider an Apple product if an interesting design captures my attention.
In the short run, I believe Apple should be able to maintain current PC sales levels and its share of the PC market. Any increase in market share, albeit small or large, is likely to cause the stock price of both companies to rise. I believe analysts are ignoring the bigger picture and will not go out on a limb to recommend either company due to increased Intel-powered Apple PC sales. This creates a valuable chance to purchase the stocks before others spot the opportunity.
I would recommend purchasing shares of Intel at today’s prices. I consider INTC undervalued and Intel is a clear winner in its relationship with Apple. I believe it’s a toss-up with AAPL shares. The performance of Apple shares is unclear due to the company’s reliance on the iPod. I would wait towards the end of the year incase iPod sales taper off and a selloff in AAPL ensues.