web analytics

Bill Bennett


Microsoft’s loss, Apple’s PC victory

This is where it all started - the Apple II
This is where it all started – the Apple II

Analysts blame the PC sales slump on Windows 8’s failure. They would do better looking at Apple’s success.

IDC says PC Shipments the Steepest Decline Ever in a Single Quarter. The analyst says unit sales fell 14 percent compared with a year earlier.

Gartner has different numbers: Worldwide PC Shipments in the First Quarter of 2013 Drop to Lowest Levels Since Second Quarter of 2009. It says year on year sales declined 11 percent. It is the first time since the second quarter of 2009 worldwide PC sales fell below 80 million.

When these numbers were release analysts and pundits were quick to blame Microsoft. IDC’s press release quotes a senior executive:

“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market”

That’s one explanation. But what’s clear from both reports is the demand for PCs is falling and there’s no sight of recovery. The PC era is over.

Windows 8, cause or effect?

Windows 8 is Microsoft’s reaction to the end of the PC era, not the cause of it. It also happens to be awful.

The real reason for the PC’s decline is soaring tablet sales. ABI research estimates tablet sales will hit 150 million in 2013.

Apple is the leading tablet maker. Its iPad started the modern tablet market in 2010 and it still dominates sales. Last year Apple’s tablet market share was 60 percent.

Apple offers a mature and full suite of personal devices: phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. It supports this with all the hardware, software and services needed to make these devices be productive and easy to use.

The story of falling PC sales is not about Microsoft’s failure, it is about Apple’s success. After years of struggle, Apple has won a stunning victory.



9 thoughts on “Microsoft’s loss, Apple’s PC victory

  1. Great point: “Windows 8 is Microsoft’s reaction to the end of the PC era, not the cause of it.”

    However, you could also still argue that Microsoft’s response to Apple’s success has not been all that successful itself.

    1. Agreed. Although moving from an everyday PC operating system to one that works well with touch screen devices and tablets was always going to be a tough journey.

      In hindsight I wonder what a successful Windows 8 launch would look like.

  2. I would say the personal computer market has been waiting for an excuse to be in decline for 10 years or so. Before tablets it was netbooks which blasted onto the scene.

    Most people do not need the power afforded by a full desktop or laptop, so a device that is a fraction of the cost but does everything you need it to is a very attractive thing.

    PS: Thanks for saying ‘modern’ tablet. People act as though they didn’t exist until Apple said the word and I think that is ignoring a very interesting past of engineering and design.

    1. I’m probably one of the few people who has dabbled with earlier tablets. I even had a Compaq stylus-driven slate PC for a while back in the days before HP acquired the brand.

      The tablet + stylus format is great for journalists who often have to take notes while standing – qwerty keyboards and onscreen keyboards aren’t great for that. I had high hopes the iPad would work with a proper pen-like stylus, not those chunky big capacitive things you sometimes see. There is an HP stylus for the ElitePad – maybe that’s the ticket.

      1. It’s always been what has intrigued me about the Samsung tablets. Being able to take notes and not ‘notes’ is a big plus.

  3. Thanks Bill, a rare voice of sanity.

    I have to add that I think the real situation is that the PC has changed form. It’s ironic that Apple took the “computer” out of their corporate monicker, yet all of their products are still computers (iphone, iPad, ipod touch, etc.)

    Yes, the PC as a big box on your desktop is history(post PC?), but the PC as a pocketable or wearable device is just getting started.


    1. Agree. It makes me wonder why Gartner and IDC insist on counting PC numbers as if those devices are somehow divorced from tablets and smartphones. What would be really interesting is some market analysis across the entire small computer spectrum.

      1. There is a big issue/debate that has been going on for the past 18+ months in what constitutes a pc sale, mobile sale etc. Those number crunchers need clearly defined discrete categories so they can proclaim the death of something-or-other.

Comments are closed.


%d bloggers like this: