Stop the Noiz

The iPad Is Boosting Apple's Market Share in a Big Way

Frank Fox - 2010.06.23 - Tip Jar

Only a few years ago, Apple was boasting strong sales increases of 30% or better each year while PC vendors were doing only around 15%. This gave Apple a chance to slowly catch up in market share.

In 50 or 60 years, Mac OS would have achieved parity with Windows.

Then the toy computers (called netbooks) showed up and gave a big boost to PC vendor's market share. Suddenly PC quarterly growth jumped to 20% to 26% year-over-year. Sure, Apple was still able to pull off its 30% growth rate, but the gap had narrowed. At this rate, it would take well over a hundred years for Apple to catch up.

Maybe Apple didn't worry, because it has much better profit margins and the iPhone is bringing in cash like rain in a tropical storm. Still, I hated the news of Apple's growth, because it screwed up my projections from two years ago that Apple would have a whopping 4.2% of the market this year.

Fast forward to 2010. Apple is having great success with the iPad. It has already sold over 3 million of the suckers. Apple has trouble keeping them stocked in stores, and there are a lot more countries to sell them in.

This looks a lot like the rapid growth that netbooks went through.

If we were to count iPads not as Mac sales, but as computer sale nonetheless, Apple's market share of computers gets a big boost. Gene Munster is predicting 6.2 million iPads sold by the end of 2010, and iSuppli estimates 7.1 million. Apple does well to sell 3 million Macs a quarter. Adding six to seven million iPads by year end to 12 million Macs this year is like an extra six to seven months of Mac sales.

Is the iPad a PC?

Hold on, you say. The iPad isn't a PC.

If it's not a PC (personal computer), what is it? It's too big to be a PDA. It's not a phone. It's much more than an ebook reader. And while it's good for games, it not a game console.

If we are to believe Steve Ballmer (not something I like to do), everything too big to fit in your pocket is a PC. And if Windows tablets are PCs, why isn't the iPad a PC?

The iPad appears to be taking market share from netbooks - and you can't take market share unless your product is in the same market. This means that the iPad is another form of PC.

The good news is that under this definition, Apple computer sales are taking off. Instead of 10 to 12 million computers for 2010, Apple will sell 21 to 24 million. Apple might have almost 6% of the computer market this year.

My estimates from two years ago will still be wrong, but in a good way.

Price Matters

People have always claimed that Apple would sell a lot more computers if they lowered their prices. The base model iPad is only $499, which is $200 less than the new Mac mini and half the price of the MacBook. If iPad forecasts of 20 million units by 2012 are even close to correct, Apple may double its market share in just two years. And lower prices really would help them sell even more.

So go ahead, Steve Ballmer, and call the iPad a PC. Apple wins no matter what it is called. Apple will soon have double-digit market share, and that is fine by me. Maybe then people like Paul Thurrott will finally stop whining about how small Apple's market share is. (Then again, probably not.) LEM

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