Mac Market Share Up in U.S., Down Worldwide: iOS to Blame?

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According to the October report from Net Applications, the Mac remains mainly an American platform. Mac market share in the U.S. has been steadily climbing, rising in recent months from 11.2 percent in August to 11.4 percent in October. That percentage roughly correlates with Mac sales data published by Gartner and IDC, which put the Mac’s market share in the U.S.at 9.3 and 10.6 percent, respectively, for the third quarter of 2010.

The correlation is important because Net Applications derives its data from some 160 million visitors per month to a network of sites. If Net Application data follows sales data for the U.S., that data likely proves true for calculating Mac market share worldwide, and that’s not exactly good news for the Mac. For October, Net Applications has OS X market share at 4.98 percent worldwide, down from 5.03 percent in September.

Looking at the trend for OS X over the last two years, it’s apparent there’s been a flattening of growth worldwide. iOS is showing growth, and so may be accounting for more of people’s internet browser time. That’s not necessarily bad news for the Mac, though. Just because you opt to surf the web on your iPad doesn’t mean you don’t also own a MacBook Pro, for instance.

Again, Net Applications derives its data from web browsing, and the biggest increase in web browsing as measured by Net Applications over the last two years or so has come from iOS devices. In just over two years, iOS has seen a tenfold increase in its market share, and now registers 1.25 percent of all operating systems. That small percentage represents easily more than a hundred million devices and growing.

What this means is that iOS is growing faster than OS X, hence the increasing market share, but what’s really interesting is that Windows is also seeing a decline in market share. Last year, when Windows 7 launched, combined market share for all versions of the OS represented 92.54 percent. A year later, that Windows market share has fallen to 91.12 percent.

Of course, iOS isn’t the only mobile OS that’s seeing rapid growth. Android also has seen tenfold growth, going from .02 percent a year ago to 0.27 percent of OS market share for October 2010. According to Net Applications, iPhones and Android phones have shown roughly the same growth each month for the last four months. That means 14 million iPhones last quarter was just enough to achieve parity with all Android phones combined. If Apple wants to maintain that parity, the Verizon iPhone can’t come soon enough.

As for the Mac, with Apple selling record numbers of computers every quarter, the Mac isn’t in danger of obsolescence, but the days of Mac preeminence at Apple is gone forever. “Back to the Mac” or not, iOS is the future of Apple.

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