Over on Apple Matters there's an interesting piece by Chris Seibold that suggests there's a correlation between Apple switching to Intel CPUs and the dramatic increase in Mac sales. Is it really "Intel Inside" that's selling Macs? Or is it more to do with "Windows Inside"?
Pre switch Mac sales were flattish. After the first Intel powered Macs came out sales trending decidedly up and once the transition was complete Mac sales took off.
Seibold then goes on to look at, and dismiss, the notion that Mac sales were driven by Vista (or user's poor reaction to the OS) and Mac OS X refinement. Breaking down the sales into desktop Macs and notebook Macs, Seibold concludes that it's the superior Intel processor in the notebooks that's driving sales, given that it's an explosion in portable sales that are really driving Mac sales.
It's a compelling read (and I encourage you to read the piece), but I'm not convinced.
Because I have a hard time believing that most people know what brand the CPU in their Mac is, and of the minority that does, few care. The days of a processor brand name or MHz/GHz selling a system is behind us (OK, power sells to hardcore and power users, but as far as the buying public go, it's irrelevant). The idea that it was the lure of "Intel Inside" driving people into Apple Stores to buy Macs doesn't make any sense to me. Joe "Buying" Public doesn't think like that.
I have a different idea, one that's linked to the Intel CPU, but not directly.
Boot Camp. Yep. My take on the Mac sales explosion is that it was the ability to set up Windows on a Mac as a dual boot OS was what really made Macs both viable and relevant. It allowed people to make the leap to the new OS, but still have a safety net in case things didn't work out. Compatibility was no longer a sticking point and people could switch between operating systems to suit their needs.
Note: I know that apps such as Parallels allowed people to do this, but the leap to a third-party app is too much of a leap for most.
Intel CPUs made Boot Camp possible, so in a way it was Intel that helped boost Mac sales, but only indirectly. What really boosted Mac sales was Windows.