Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Feb 2009 13:42 UTC
Apple Whenever we're talking market share and Macs, it'll inevitably get late. There are different means of measuring market share, and different ways to interpret the resulting data, usually leading to heated debates about who is right and who isn't. Ars decided to take a look at the different methods of measurement and see what they mean.
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Net applications sucks
by averycfay on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:16 UTC
averycfay
Member since:
2005-08-29

Even if they are not good for measuring market share itself, you can still use them to investigate where the market is going: sure, Linux may only have 0.5% according to these figures, but if a year ago this was stuck at 0.25, that still indicates a growing trend.

Not really, at least if we're talking about Linux. The numbers change way too much month-to-month to put any kind of weight in them even if we only care about trends.

http://marketshare.hitslink.com/os-market-share.aspx?qprid=9

Check out Linux's share between September and October of 2008. You can't seriously believe that ~20% of Linux users suddenly switched operating systems over a one month period. Much more likely they changed which websites they were tracking (or how much weight they were putting behind certain websites) complete throwing off the numbers. That might more accurately reflect reality if you only care about absolute market share, but it makes tracking trends completely worthless. It's like switching your procedures half-way through a scientific experiment. It completely invalidates the results.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Net applications sucks
by B12 Simon on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:35 UTC in reply to "Net applications sucks"
B12 Simon Member since:
2006-11-08

I'd agree that a large part of the change was some change in their methods but there was a genuine big jump to linux around that time with the increased popularity of the netbook.

In this case I'd argue it's a little from column A, a little from column B
/grampa Simpson

Reply Score: 2

RE: Net applications sucks
by spiderman on Tue 24th Feb 2009 15:40 UTC in reply to "Net applications sucks"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

If I'm not mistaken, net applications only monitors web sites in english. Is that right?
Most linux browsers hide their user agent or report wrong informations.
So what kind of trend does it report? how many english speacking people upgraded their browser, how many of them compiled it with another user agent, or how many people became paranoid enough to hide their user agent?
Many people use linux because they want security and many people just won't let net applications know which system they are running.
Moreover, it all depends on how many web sites people visit with their machine. Plus, there are many people using a linux NAT but their browser is on a Windows machine.
So what kind of market are you measuring? Linux is free, it is not in the market, at all. I multiboot 5 different linux distros and I have a linux router, does it count as 5 linux installs, 1 linux user or 2 linux machines?

I believe the real question is, what purpose those number serve? If this is some kind of market analysys for software vendors to port their software to different OSes, there is really no point. It's a no brainer. Just make your code portable and get all the market, no matter how it is shared.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Net applications sucks
by h3rman on Tue 24th Feb 2009 16:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Net applications sucks"
h3rman Member since:
2006-08-09

I multiboot 5 different linux distros ...


Lemme innerduce..
Spiderman, virtualisation, virtualisation, spiderman. :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Net applications sucks
by Kroc on Tue 24th Feb 2009 16:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Net applications sucks"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

"Most linux browsers hide their user agent or report wrong informations."

Most sentences starting with “most”, are wrong.

Reply Score: 3

contrast
by alcibiades on Tue 24th Feb 2009 14:54 UTC
alcibiades
Member since:
2005-10-12

Ars has run two recent stories on companies, the first on HP, quite a nice informative story by Stokes. The second by the egregious Ms Cheng, whose eyes are tight shut to anything which might shed light on the subject.

There is an interesting story in here about what lies in store for Apple. It would begin with what is happening to total PC unit sales and revenues based on Far East information. It would go on to enquire into the effect of the netbook segment in this environment and how Apple will react. And finally it would consider efi-x, PearC and Psystar and potential impacts on PC hardware margins. It would go on to consider the nature and evolution of the phone market. And it would conclude by asking what PE ratio you should be happy with, and how much and how predictable growth you expect in exchange, and what risks you have built in to that valuation.

After you get through with this, AAPL is not going to look cheap to you at 90. Or, I suspect, at 45 when it eventually gets there. Piper Jaffray however, being sell side, will continue enthusiastic about it right down until 10, at which point they will cease coverage.

Yes, there is money in the bank. It will not help. You are not buying Apple to have money on deposit with money market funds. One hopes!

Edited 2009-02-24 14:55 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Show m the money
by eantoranz on Tue 24th Feb 2009 16:35 UTC
eantoranz
Member since:
2005-12-18

Come on, Thom.

Let us see the browser/platform usage statistics of osnews.com. :-D

Reply Score: 3

RE: Show m the money
by David on Wed 25th Feb 2009 08:31 UTC in reply to "Show m the money"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

Interestingly enough, here's the info from yesterday:
33% Windows
31% Mac
31% Linux
5% Other

How's that for balance?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Show m the money
by David on Wed 25th Feb 2009 08:33 UTC in reply to "Show m the money"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

And how about this?
59% Firefox
13% Safari
8% Internet Explorer
6% Chrome
4% Opera
4% Mozilla
3% Crawler/Search Engine
2% Epiphany
<1% MobileSafari
<1% Konqueror

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Show m the money
by Kroc on Wed 25th Feb 2009 08:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Show m the money"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Lol, you can't be serious. That's great! But even my site gets 10% IE, and it doesn't even work on IE at all!

Reply Score: 1

my stats
by lqsh on Tue 24th Feb 2009 19:25 UTC
lqsh
Member since:
2007-01-01

Here are some real stats: last 3 computers I bought were Macs!

The extra price is worth it. You get what you pay for.

Reply Score: 1

Unit sales or mind share?
by mrhasbean on Tue 24th Feb 2009 22:09 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

Unit sales do give an indication of current market share, and as Thom rightly points out these figures generally don't account for business sales. However a more important figure for future projections for any company is mind share, and it is here that I believe Apple have made some fairly major inroads.

For those who don't know what the hell I'm talking about let me put it this way. If a business buys 1000 computers that decision is generally made by a small group of people, so even though the unit sales is 1000 the mind share for the purchase may have been say five. Apple's increased mind share, which has lead to the increase in retail market share, has come about because of their success with iPod and iPhone products, and lead to many retail purchasers buying a Mac for the first time.

As more services move to the interwebs platform will become increasingly irrelevant and with both static and mobile platforms using the exact same browser engine and interface Apple is also in a good position to capitalise in this growing market, especially in situations where those making the business purchase decisions are the same people who have switched to Apple gear at home.

The whole Pystar case is to a large degree moot in all of this. Techy geeky types and their immediate family and friends will know of companies like Pystar, but the majority won't, and I personally believe if Apple lose the Pystar case they will just change the distribution model for OSX to be more akin to Microsoft's which will either send Pystar into oblivion or generate more revenue for Apple anyway.

So I honestly don't see Apple losing in all of this, I may be wrong and I'm sure Windows fanboys like Thom are hoping I am. Apple has shown an incredible resilience over the years and I don't see that changing any time soon. The ride will be an interesting one...

Reply Score: 0

RE: Unit sales or mind share?
by elsewhere on Wed 25th Feb 2009 05:06 UTC in reply to "Unit sales or mind share?"
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13


For those who don't know what the hell I'm talking about let me put it this way. If a business buys 1000 computers that decision is generally made by a small group of people, so even though the unit sales is 1000 the mind share for the purchase may have been say five. Apple's increased mind share, which has lead to the increase in retail market share, has come about because of their success with iPod and iPhone products, and lead to many retail purchasers buying a Mac for the first time.


You're overlooking the fact that the small group of people making the decision for business purchasing is most likely made on ROI considerations, at least for companies where purchasing impacts 1,000 seats. Consumer mindshare honestly does not play into these types of scenarios, at least not in a significant way.

As more services move to the interwebs platform will become increasingly irrelevant and with both static and mobile platforms using the exact same browser engine and interface Apple is also in a good position to capitalise in this growing market, especially in situations where those making the business purchase decisions are the same people who have switched to Apple gear at home.


To my point above, if organizations are moving to the interweb as a platform for delivery, why would they utilize a more-expensive proprietary platform for deploying a web-browser?

Reply Score: 2

Milo_Hoffman
Member since:
2005-07-06

I think what the real problem is that there is no real source for 'home' computer marketshare vs 'business' marketshare.


Most all desktop computers are in businesses....and its a given that about 99%+ of those run Windows. It's a lock-in...literally.

It would also seem that business desktop are probably 70-80% of all desktop computers in existence. (Don't really know, its a shame).


The only 'numbers' that we have for mac marketshare is like "9% OVERALL".


Well, that would mean that if you take out Business computers where Mac's don't even really compete, then your really talking about 20% of the market.



So Apple having 9% of the remaining 20% == ABOUT 45% OF THE HOME COMPUTER MARKET.


Thats mind blowing, and really could be the truth.


However, we have shitty numbers available from the research companies and they all focus on 'total marketshare.'




The problem with only using total marketshare is THIS:
------
If your a software developer or whatever that has a program, like say a "Personal Tax Software" or something, or heck even a Game of some sort.....


If you just look at it as only '9%' of the market, you going to think to yourself....nope, not worth developing for Mac's.


But that's FALSE DATA, because your app is only competing in that 20% home computer market, your not going to sell your software to run on the 80% of the market desktops that are located in businesses...


...and your actually going to loose 45% of your potential customer base that way by missing the real data.




Some day software development houses will figure out they need better marketshare data to really do good business decisions.

Reply Score: 1

Lies, damned lies, and statistics
by elsewhere on Wed 25th Feb 2009 05:56 UTC
elsewhere
Member since:
2005-07-13

Browser statistics are interesting, but irrelevant, unless they're coming from a company like Google, which is one of the only web entities I would consider to be large enough in global userbase to overcome cultural, lingual, market and regional biases in terms of relevancy. Not perfect, but much better. But since Google et al. don't release browser stats, which is actually a shame, everything else represents a biased-sample.

Market share is an ambiguous concept. Most references to market share refer to % of dollars sold. 90% of the global organizations could be running Debian on all of their servers, but Microsoft would still dominate market share because that remaining 10% is paying for their Windows licenses.

More relevantly, Apple's average retail price is more than double their closest competitors, so Apple can sell half as many systems as anyone else, while still maintaining market share.

Unit share is more interesting, because it covers the number of units that a manufacturer actually sold, rather than the cumulative value of the units they sold.

This is where the numbers game comes into play.

In Jan 08, Apple laptops represented 15% of all laptops sold in the US, but that dropped to slightly over 13% for Jan 09. Yet, Apple sold more laptops in Jan 09 than Jan 08. More interesting, their market share in terms of retail dollars spent is almost exactly flat between Jan 08 and Jan 09.

Which metric do you want to go by? You can argue Apple's unit share is dropping, you can argue that Apple is increasing their unit shipments, or you can argue that their market share is flat. This is the game that marketing people like to play.

I'm not an Apple fanboi by any means, but I have to say, in business terms, Apple is doing phenomenally well in the retail space. They're effectively maintaining their market position despite being more expensive than the competition (when looking at the average price of the overall units sold).

There's a couple of interesting factors that will come into play. First of all, netbook sales are becoming fairly significant in terms of units shipped, although they're a relative drop in the bucket in terms of dollars spent. Netbooks weren't even on the map for most of 2008, but starting around September, they made a noticeable impact in unit sales.

The increase in netbook sales, considering Apple doesn't sell one, does somewhat dilute the stats for the other top tier companies and that will impact the average sell price those manufacturers are seeing for their products. Does this impact Apple? Not directly, but in a stressed economic time, it does raise the question of whether existing customers will be spending money to purchase new Apple systems versus the convenience of a much cheaper netbook for portability.

Then there is the fanboi factor. One thing Apple has done a remarkable job of is building a fanatically loyal userbase. On this aspect I don't have hard numbers to go by, but I'd suspect that Apple probably tops the other manufactuers in terms of customer willingness to remain with the brand. The fanboi factor comes into play with that segment of customers that will never choose an alternative platform. But the fanbois only represent a segment of the existing market, the question is how large? There are a number of "casual" customers that chose Apple over the last couple of years, versus the long-term Apple users, but again, the question is, how many?

Apple, regardless of how people try to do the mathematics comparing their products against competitors, is a premium brand. It commands a premium price, and Apple earns a premium margin. Good for them, they've clearly been doing something right.

Still, given the current economic condition, there's a very valid question of how long Apple will be able to maintain their market with that premium pricing. As I pointed out above, Apple's average sell retail price for each laptop is more than double that of their closest competitors. Apple may be dropping slightly in terms of unit share, but they are still second in terms of dollar share. Will Apple be able to rely on existing customers being able to upgrade to newer systems? Will Apple be able to rely on agnostic customers they may have gained over the last few years being willing to pay a premium to upgrade? Will Apple lose out in the consumer choice between a newer Apple or a much cheaper but practical netbook?

I'm not bothering to look at desktop sales, because that's a whole separate set of numbers that I'm too lazy to analyze, since they're pretty much plummeting overall for every manufacturer, including Apple.

Apple has been doing something remarkably right with their product marketing, and it has been working for them. Though I don't use a Mac, and can't envision myself doing so any time in the near future, my hat is still off to them for that. I do think that the next year will be a remarkable test of how loyal a customer base they have, and their true ability to recruit new customers. That's where the numbers will become interesting, and the spinning of them, even more so. I'm not willing to place bets one way or the other, at this point.

Just my rambling 2c...

Reply Score: 2