Windows 7 No Threat to Mac: Report

From Computerworld, the ponderings of Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall may state the obvious, but nonetheless bear repeating: Windows 7 is no threat to the Mac.

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Having looked at the data on Windows release dates, Marshall “found no negative correlation between them and Mac sales.” Further, Marshall suggests that “new OS launches from MSFT may have even acted as a ‘delayed accelerant’ to AAPL’s computing sales.” However, he is also careful to add that “AAPL’s success (or failure) in the computing market is largely idiosyncratic (or company-specific) in nature and not dependent on others in the industry.” Just like a six-figure analyst to have it both ways, but he does have a point, at least about Apple.

While it’s true that the numbers don’t lie, they don’t tell the whole story in this case, either. Not shown on the chart is how the release of Windows 95 was an unmitigated disaster for then-Apple Computer. The company saw Mac market share effectively halved from 1995 to 1996, from around double digits to 5 percent in a year, and it only got worse.

That bump in sales in 1997 was due to the original iMac, as was a good deal of the spike that ran until 2001. And 2001, of course, brought the tech bust, not a worldwide embrace of Windows Millennium Edition at the expense of Apple. While Mac sales were stagnant over the next several years, even as PC sales grew, the basis of the Mac Renaissance we now enjoy can be traced to a few key events.

  • Beginning in 2002, the continuous, incremental improvement in Mac OS X combined with the perceived security disaster of Windows XP changed attitudes about Microsoft and Apple.
  • The iPod Halo Effect, the idea that the popularity of the iPod encouraged the Mac “curious” to switch, probably started in late 2003 with the iTunes Store and iTunes for Windows.
  • The switch to Intel in 2006, along with the “safety net” of Apple’s Boot Camp or third-party virtualization, removed the last perceived obstacle to owning a Mac.

So, the iMac, the iPod and the iTunes Store, OS X, Intel Macs, and now the iPhone; all these “idiosyncratic” products are what have fueled Apple’s comeback, though it’s also fair to say Microsoft’s lack of innovation played a small part in that comeback, too. Looking forward to 2010, it appears that trend will continue. Windows 7 does nothing more than replace lackluster Vista, Microsoft’s mobile strategy is a disaster, and how about a tablet PC with a stylus in the age of multitouch?

Really, the game is Apple’s to lose.

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