I’m beginning to think that Windows Vista is going to make a much larger splash than anyone suspects.
I think that Apple is going to increase market share by perhaps a percentage point during the next year because of the Intel platform, however Apple still hasn’t quite figured out how to grab more mainstream market share. They did pull the “Mac Guy Vs. PC Guy” ads because they were getting a largely negative response from the majority of potential consumers — people were actually feeling sympathy for the PC Guy, and the Mac Guy was coming off as a typical Apple Snob. Of course, existing Apple computer customers loved the ads and could see nothing wrong with them, but they are not the typical computer consumer.
Apple recognizing there was a problem with the ads and pulling them is certainly a step forward, however it’s not yet enough. Apple will not start gaining serious market share unless and until they start selling Apple machines in mass market retail outlets, such as Wal-mart and big-box electronics stores.
The average consumer won’t pay several hundred dollars extra for hardware. Some consumers will pay more if that hardware is from a PC manufacturer such as Sony that comes across as a high-end, really cool machine that already has Windows pre-installed. Apple could compete with Sony, but it can’t compete with Dell, HP or Gateway because it doesn’t understand the Dell/HP/Gateway marketplace and what those customers want.
There’s a huge pent-up demand for something new on the consumer side. I think that Vista is going to give the sales of new PC’s a big shot in the arm.
Ultimately Apple must figure out how to dispel the “snob” image. The “snob” image works in the mass market for selling iPod’s but not for the mass PC market, which is very different even though it covers many of the same people. It’s interesting to think about.
Having the ability to install and run Windows isn’t enough to gain real PC market share. The majority of people want Windows pre-installed, something so far Apple is loathe to do.