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Do rising Mac sales spell the end for the PC?

Nick

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Apple logoAre the days of PCs and Windows really numbered? Will the world eventually convert to Macs? Maybe these sound like rather wild suggestions but what’s clear is that Apple Macs are selling better than ever before – and in a time when economies around the world have started to slow down.

Fortune recently reported that Mac sales worldwide went up 60% last month compared to the same period in 2007. At the same time, Apple’s share of the US Market has almost doubled from 9% to 14% over the same period. Fortune reports that in dollar terms, Apple captured a full 25 percent of the U.S. computer market last month.

These are pretty impressive figures for a company that traditionally has only accounted for a very small percentage of computer sales. As many Mac converts will tell you however, this ascendancy has been in the pipeline for a very long time. One aficionado comments:

At last large numbers of people are coming to realize (what old Macheads knew all along) that Mac OS is simply superior to Windows. This difference in technology prowess between Microsoft and the new Apple is so clear: Zune vs. iPod Touch, Windows Mobile vs. iPhone, Vista vs. Leopard. People think that Apple is a dwarf next to Msft’s. juggernaut but Apple’s revenues were over half Msft’s last year (which is not so small and the think the gap is going to close up). Apple stock was up 1500% in the last five years, Msft. was only up 30%. And wait until the new iPhone and iPod Touch apps come out after the SDK release. People are salivating to try out the apps. As people like John Doerr (Google, Amazon financier) believe, it’s the birth of a new platform as big or bigger than the PC.

Predictions that Macs would start to sell like hot cakes did in fact began as far back as 2006 when Arstecnica rightly pointed out that new features such as Boot Camp (allowing you to run Mac OS and Windows on a Mac), the adoption of Intel processors by Mac and of course the iPod (and now the iPhone) have all helped boost sales.

However, if Macs do continue to sell apace, Apple may become a victim of its own success according to one report. Although Apple stores are outselling PC stores, the cost of supporting those customers – at least in the USA – is coming at a very high price for Apple. As AppleInsider reports:

With staffing levels to provide sales and technical service climbing much higher than they normally would be at other stores – averaging at 40 workers per store – Apple’s expenses for taking care of customers are growing faster than for store profits. Profit margins at the retail stores were just 21.3 percent during fiscal 2007 versus 24.7 percent for every other division. iPod sales for each official store have also dropped by about 50 percent on average over the last year placing more pressure on Apple to fare well in its Mac business.

However, the future looks bright for Apple with the iPhone set to become one of the biggest selling mobiles ever and Windows Vista likely to suffer ever increasing vulnerability attacks and slowdowns. Let’s hope that the temptation for Apple will not be to skimp and save on components or outsource too much of its IT support because the irony could be, that the high quality advantages that Macs have over PCs, may be lost in the effort to stop Apple becoming a victim of its own success.

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