Even as a mac user, I always wonder why people are so hellbent on proving that a surge in mac sales will herald a global revolution that will reclaim the desktop. Come on folks, you know better than that.
Take this article on TUAW, “Mac US market growth in Q4 31% vs. 3% PC growth”.
Sensational isn’t it? Let’s put it in perspective. According to a Gartner Report from 2005, PC sales were roughly 202 million units. Last time I checked the mac had a roughly 5% market share of all PCs (yes, shocking as it mays seem a mac is also a Personal Computer). A 31% surge of 5% of 202 million is 13 million (up from 10 million) and for PCs this works out to 197 million (up from 192 million).
Projecting growth and predicting when macs will overtake PCs will take some calculus (since you have a couple variable growth rates involved) but just putting the figures in perspective is simple math. Nobody knows if macs have reached a tipping point and if these numbers will continue. Make no mistake the numbers are really really good, especially when you consider that these are quarterly numbers but there’s still a long way to go.
The biggest mistake these sensationalist articles make is that they fail to treat Apple as a PC manufacturer (like Dell or HP) and instead pit OS X against Windows as equal rivals. It’s like comparing Republican Party numbers against the Independent Party rather than be realistic and compare them against Democrats.
The growth is still phenomenal but we’ll have to see if the trend holds after Vista. Apple certainly has more mind share these days and I’m sure switchers will maintain a high conversion rate (of course, they can always wipe the hard drives and install Vista on the new macs if they wish).
If only Apple would license OS X to other manufactures then I’d be excited and lend more weight but right now, if you don’t want to get arrested or go through hell configuring the Dell to run a hacked version of OS X, you need to buy mac hardware to get OS X.