Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

Summary: A startling reminder that the world is not on the desk anymore, or on our laps. It's in the palm of our hands, or resting in our pockets ready to be beckoned at our every whim.

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Here's the figure from Asymco, quoting Apple chief executive Tim Cook, on the trajectory of popular Apple products in comparison to each other over the course of the products' respective lives.

The chart is a representation, rather than one produced by Apple.

Apple have sold 122 million Macs in the 28 years they have been available on the market. It sold 55 million iPads to date, and sold 22 million iPods in the first five years since the first device were out on the market. The company sold around 175 million iPhones to date, with 37 million of them in the last quarter alone.

In a nutshell: the iOS device collective reached 316 million cumulative units at the end of last year, while the Mac collective sold only 122 million cumulatively to date.

As Asymco puts it: "The iOS platform overtook the OS X platform in under four years and more iOS devices were sold in 2011 (156 million) than all the Macs ever sold (122 million)."

It goes without saying that there is a clear disparity between the Mac line of hardware and the iOS devices available. Not only in price, but functionality and availability. Apple has long been criticised for creating laptop and desktop hardware that is "overpriced" or "too expensive" for what you are given. It depends entirely on taste and what you want in a device.

But iOS devices are in an accessible league of their own, in that they are handheld, ultra-portable, and cheaper. They are probably more expensive in what they can do nowadays in comparison to what people need and want. The cultural shift has changed from desktops in the mid-1990's to laptops in the early-2000's, to handhelds towards the mid-to-end of the decade.

It should therefore not come as much of a surprise that the OS X desktop is becoming more like the iOS device.

Update: clarifications made.

Image source: Asymco.

Related:

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Mobile OS

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46 comments
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  • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

    Apple have sold 140 Macs running some form of OS X to date in the 28 years they have been available on the market.

    140 Macs?
    daikon
    • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

      @daikon I know right, I have one of them! Very Rare! Sell it for $100k because I am good like that. :-D
      slickjim
      • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

        @Peter Perry

        I'd just love to have one of those Apple]['s that were running OS X 25 five years ago.
        A Grain of Salt
    • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

      @daikon What's the surprise? One would hope that they would be able to sell a lot more devices that cost a few hundred dollars than ones that cost thousands of dollars.
      Ronin1
    • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

      @daikon Are you blind? They sold over 100 million. Did you not notice the million?
      xamountofwords
      • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

        @xamountofwords

        That's just over 5.1 Million Macs a year, on average. You could turn the argument round and say, Apple didn't sell Macs very well. In fact, you could turn it round and say comparing iOS devices to a failed product is pretty poor journalism.
        Bozzer
  • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

    Yeah well, they had a good thing going on the early 80s but Jobs Holy War almost killed the company. I know he would never admit it but their most profitable years back then were under Scully. If they grew with the market instead of keeping their pricing up they might have not been pushed to the brink. If all that happened, they would likely have sold many more Macs.

    With that said, it is a good achievement and it is good to see he learned something from those days.
    slickjim
    • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

      @Peter Perry

      http://www.nytimes.com/1991/07/18/business/loss-for-apple-record-profit-at-intel.html

      http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-06-19/business/1993170082_1_john-sculley-apple-computer-job-at-apple

      Apple was pushed to the brink long after Jobs had gone.

      Conde Nast Portfoliio - 14th Worst American CEO of all time: http://www.cnbc.com/id/30502091?slide=8
      msalzberg
      • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

        @msalzberg Right, now read what I said... Scully had them very successful, much more so than when Jobs was there (not that they were bad when Jobs was there, they weren't).

        Apple failed because they misread the market... They failed to keep pace with the pricing model the PC Created, that was the only thing Scully did wrong and Jobs himself actually made several of those same decisions with the new platform (iOS devices) but nobody ever talks about that.
        slickjim
      • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

        @Peter Perry<br><br>I read what you wrote. Did you? "Jobs Holy War almost killed the company."<br><br>What? <br><br>The original Mac was set to sell for $1995. Sculley was the one who st the price at $2495, not Jobs, setting the stage for 30 years of complaints that Macs are overpriced. It should also be noted that Jobs was forced out of Apple less than two years after the introduction of the Mac. He left Sculley with a great product. Sculley screwed it up completely, something he now admits.
        msalzberg
    • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

      @Peter Perry
      You never tire of not knowing what you are talking about, do you?
      Brink of what? Apple certainly was NEVER close to going out of business, if that is what you mean. Please cite a year post-Mac when Apple had less than a billion in liquid capital cash on hand.
      .DeusExMachina.
  • A startling reminder that the world is not on the desk anymore,

    A startling reminder that APPLE is not on the desk anymore!
    Amusal
    • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

      With an active userbase of 1.2 billion users, what do you think the cumulative sales of Windows is? 7 billion? 10 billion?
      The world is on the desktop. Apple isn't.
      Amusal
      • and they're making all of the accountants drool over their profits.

        @Amusal

        The world can stay on the desktop, competing in the dog eat dog razor thin margin hardware market created by the accountants.

        No Apple is not on a desktop unless you definitely want to buy a Mac.

        They're quite happy selling high margin desirable consumer devices that just happen to use computers.
        MSBPodcast
      • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

        @Amusal "The world is on the desktop. Apple isn't."

        Apple doesn't need it, and has shown no interest to release OS X for it. But it can easily be taken if Google is interested - they only have to release Android for it, and it's bye bye Windows.
        veggiedude
      • You're delusional

        @veggiedude
        [i]they only have to release Android for it, and it's bye bye Windows. [/i]

        ROTFL!
        William Farrel
    • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

      @Amusal Exactly! And that's still respectively a small share of the computing world.
      xamountofwords
  • The price of one Mac is how many times more than the avg iOS device price?

    I understand the point you are trying to make, Zack.

    However, by ignoring the consumer disposable income factor, assigning a rationale behind consumer electronic purchases could be subject to a misinterpretation.

    For example, most teenagers and young adults can afford a smartphone or an iPod Touch. (And perhaps a used or refurbished iPad) And so they purchase one. However, purchasing a computer system complete with printer and a WiFi network (and the yearly costs associated with that access) might be beyond a teenager's or young adult's budget. That financial fact of life is just as true today as it was thirty years ago.

    The fact that iOS devices outnumber OS X systems doesn't surprise me in the least.

    To put that into perspective, I'm sure there were more TV models sold worldwide last year (by a large margin) than all the desktop PCs sold by all the computer manufactures combined.
    kenosha77a
    • RE: Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in 28 years

      @kenosha77a Clarifications made; my bad. Thanks.
      zwhittaker
  • Mac sales also steadily increasing

    Was it ever common for a company's most expensive products to outsell their cheapest? For ANY industry?

    I agree that there is a major focus shift to mobile devices, but it is also worth noting from the graph, that Mac sales are currently increasing at a seemingly geometric rate as well. It might be that instead of mobile devices replacing desktop devices, the entire market is expanding. Either way, The future still looks bright for Apple.
    Tigertank