Windows 7 is bound to trip over Mac OS X Snow Leopard, even if just a little bit, at the rate that Apple is growing, making consistent inroads into the computer market. Mac OS X Leopard has already managed to take a consistent bite out of the traditional Windows territory, pushing Apple's slice of the operating system market close to 8%, according to data from Net Applications, approximately half of that of Windows Vista. OS X is no longer insignificant, and the fact is that Apple's operating system will continue to grow judging by the general trends. The only problem is that the growth of Mac computers and OS X will only come with the erosion of Windows' install base. A trend already in place with Vista SP1, XP SP3 and Leopard, and that is bound only to accentuate with Windows 7 and Snow Leopard.
Statistics published by market analysis companies Gartner and IDC indicate a high rate of growth for Apple's Mac computer shipments in the second quarter of 2008 compared with Q2 2007 in the United States. Gartner indicates that Apple is enjoying a market share of 8.5% in Q2, 2008, 38.1% more than 6.4% in the same period of the past year. The Cupertino-based hardware company shipped almost 1.4 million units in the past quarter. IDC credits Apple with 1.32 million units shipped, a market share of 7.8% up from 6.2% last year, and a growth of 31.7%.
This data is valid strictly for the U.S. Globally, Apple is performing very poorly compared to its native market, and is not in the top five players. The relevance for the operating system market, however, is indisputable. Each Mac machine comes with its own copy of OS X. And the vast majority of Windows platforms are sold pre-loaded on OEM machines, with HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba and other original equipment manufacturers delivering over 80% of the Windows Client Division revenue.
Worldwide, Apple is not as significant a presence as it is on home ground, but Microsoft has to be prepared for its Cupertino-based rival to kick its efforts up a notch beyond the borders of the U.S. in the future. For now, the Redmond software giant is enjoying, through its partners a 16% growth for PC shipments in Q2 2008 compared to 2007, Gartner estimating the sale of some 71.9 million units worldwide. This translates into almost 72 million computers running Windows XP and Windows Vista.
"Mobile PCs continued to lead unit growth across all regions as the average selling price (ASP) of mobile PCs declined sharply relative to desk-based PC ASPs," commented Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group. "Economic uncertainties have hit PC revenues, resulting in steep ASP declines, especially in markets such as the United States and the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. The industry could ultimately see a significant wave of consolidation if stronger vendors continue to press their pricing advantage."
IDC is more reserved in its estimates, crediting the PC market with a growth in shipments of just 15.3%, and just 70,6 million units sold worldwide. The continuous growth of computer shipments is nothing but good news for Microsoft, as the machines are intimately connected with the Windows operating system, with only an insignificant portion going to the open source Linux platform. If the growth trend continues, it will automatically mean good news for Windows 7 when it drops at the end of 2009. Still, in the U.S., Windows 7 will have an increasingly stronger competitor represented by what Mac OS X Snow Leopard will be by the end of the next year, especially with Apple Macs' growth rate double than that of the PC market.
"Despite the economic headwinds, the PC market continued to show its resilience. Product refreshes, vendor competition for channels, and aggressive pricing add to the ongoing trend toward Portable computing in attracting buyers. The steady growth, despite the pressure on consumer finances, reflects the increasingly important role of PCs within personal technology, and steady improvements in price and design. Nevertheless, economic pressures are mounting and PC market growth is expected to decline over the next year. The relatively strong PC market in recent quarters does not mean that the sector is immune to the changing economic environment," explained Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.