If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

Summary: With an already low market share and constant growth in its sisters operating system, iOS, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit if Chromebooks succeed.

SHARE:

Mac OS X never took off in the same way that Windows did. But I suspect that Google Chromebooks will either push users away from Mac OS X towards iOS devices, or have a stranger effect: bring iOS users of the iPad and iPhone closer to its Mac OS X sibling.

With three major desktop operating systems -- Windows, Mac OS X and the million variants of Linux -- there will soon be another, in a manner of speaking.

Google Chrome OS will be pre-installed and supported by Chromebooks -- dedicated light hardware which will run the cloud-based feature set of the operating system.

But while the vast gap in market share between Windows and Mac OS X has slowly narrowed over the last three or four years, mobile operating systems have had their time to shine.

But as the majority now access web services and sites over other applications pre-installed on local machines, Apple could have most to lose in the desktop operating system space, by reducing its already little by comparison user base to lesser-capable devices like the Chromebook.

What we already know from the statistics:

Windows XP's share has been rapidly declining since the launch of Windows 7. With that, Windows 7's share has been rapidly increasing. An estimated overtake of Windows XP will be in October 2011, according to StatCounter trends.

Mac OS X users have remained consistently low by comparison at around 8%, but the user share has risen ever so slightly in the past year.

Android devices are becoming increasingly popular with nearly double the users it had this time last year. iOS devices are only second to Symbian, yet users figures have peaked and troughed in the past year.

Android devices are expected to overtake iOS devices at either Apple's lowest ebb in August 2011 or at its highest point, around Christmas 2011, in line with StatCounter figures. However, just after Christmas gone by, analysts estimated the stretch of time could be far greater, estimating late 2012 to early 2013.

Therefore it is arguable that iOS is by far used more than Mac OS X. This naturally is a logical assumption as many Mac devices are not as portable as the iPhone or the iPad. One is more likely to carry their iPhone with them far more regularly than their MacBook, for example.

It is not to say that Apple will be harmed by this, however. Though I expect, if this theory rings true, in that Apple suffers as a result in the desktop operating system arena, then it is quite likely that the booming sales of iOS devices could even out the balance across the board.

Apple, for now, holds the dominance in the tablet market. Because of Android's open source nature, it can be applied and ported to almost any device, whereas iOS relies on its iPad or iPhone technology to work; automatically excluding a large proportion of younger, less socio-economically viable users.

There are two arguments though which could play in Apple's favour.

Firstly: though Android devices have yet to overtake iOS devices, Google is already off to good stead by having an open-source, hackable and highly malleable operating system for both tablets and phones. However, iOS is inherently inter-connected with Mac-running devices, and offers fantastic interoperability with other Apple products. Android devices may not be as functional with Chromebooks.

Secondly: because Chrome OS will be all but entirely cloud based, it will offer little non-web functionality. Desktop operating systems will still be needed to 'maintain' business, productivity and for use of applications. Chrome OS may well have web-based applications, but Chromebooks will be for mostly personal, rather than productive means.

It is a sit-and-wait game to play, and how it will pan out will be interesting to see. The market share statistics will either change rapidly, with Mac OS X starting to lose out to its iOS sister and competing tablet and phone operating systems like BlackBerry's future QNX operating system and Google Android.

Then again, it could easily survive and Chromebooks could flop like a dead weight.

Related content:

Topics: Apple, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

124 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • What do you think?

    Will Apple's market share in Mac OS X suffer as a result of the ultra-slim Google Chrome OS operating system? Could iOS devices be the natural evolution of Mac OS X? Or does Apple still have the ability to keep up with competing operating systems, even with a consistently low market share compared to Windows? <b>Have your say <i>(and be nice to each other...)</i></b>
    zwhittaker
    • I do not believe that ChromeOS will take off to figures

      @zwhittaker
      matching either Windows, OS X, or Linux itself.

      It is a niche market for a device of this type, so none of the manufactures of the above mentioned operating systems need worry.

      :|
      Tim Cook
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Mister Spock
        Zack hates everything Apple, so this is nothing more than click bait. I mistakenly responded to his troll.
        Rick_K
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Rick_K No I don't. I just bought an iPad. (3 hours ago).
        zwhittaker
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @zwhittaker
        Why do I not believe you? After all of your anti-Apple rants, you claim to buy an iPad? I do not remember ever reading a blog of your that doesn?t disparage Apple. Why would you give a company that you refer to as Evil money?
        Rick_K
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Rick_k Ironic, I don't remember a post of yours where spoke positively about anything but Apple!
        slickjim
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Mister Spock I agree there will be some need but overall it's a niche product.
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Mister Spock agreed it is a niche market but how much of the market share could it consume? <a title="texas real estate attorney" href="http://kellylegalgroup">texas real estate attorney</a>
        esm2012
    • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

      @zwhittaker
      I think that people that buy OS X would not abandon it for Chrome. But people that get stuck with Windows 7 are the ones that will jump ship.
      Rick_K
      • Message has been deleted.

        slickjim
      • People who use Windows, will return this the next day

        @Rick_K ChromeBook is not capable of doing 10% of what any PC, Mac or even tablet can do.

        A lot of Window users may be tech illiterate, but they are not dumb enough to downgrade from a fully functional operating system, to a barely usable web browser that although fast, even today it has problems displaying web pages correctly.
        wackoae
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Rick_K Yeah, it's certainly an interesting one. Take the 'Chrome effect' -- as in the browser on the market share. Chrome battled through both FF and IE and smashed them both in such a short time. I think many Windows users will jump ship (or at least partly), but because it has a much higher user base than Apple's Mac users, Apple will be hit the hardest.
        zwhittaker
      • Message has been deleted.

        Rick_K
      • Message has been deleted.

        slickjim
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Rick_K I have Windows 7 and I don't feel "stuck" with it. It's all about personal preference. You're either a Corvette person or a Mustang person or someone who prefers European muscle cars. Heck, some people are all three.<br><br>Example:<br><br>Hard-core gamers don't buy Macs for games. They spend upwards of $3,000.00 on souped-up gaming PCs running Windows. AlienWare or Voodoo or custom-built. They overclock to 4ghz or so and spend 1/2 a grand or more on video cards.<br><br>Others like me own an Xbox. Others prefer Playstation, etc.<br><br>Others buy Macs and some of them use it to also run Windows.<br><br>I have a Lenovo laptop that runs only Ubuntu and I use it "most" of the time because mainly I check email and browse the web.<br><br>This Mac vs PC argument is old and tired. I've been watching it happen now since the Apple II days. Move on people and let it go.<br><br>I remember when the argument used to be between Commodore and Atari people. Heck, I even remember the days of CP/M, which was even before DOS.<br><br>Just let it go, folks.
        findsomecommonground
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Rick_K
        Not even a toy, rick, not even a toy.
        Get real. There's nothing wrong with Windows 7, other than trying to emulate the Apple look and feel.
        (I'm not a Mac person, never was, I don't expect I ever will, although I admit it's pretty good heh heh)
        radu.m
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Rick_K Fanboy opinion, state facts. I am a Windows user and would not consider changing a full OS for something that does nothing but run a browser.
        JedSands
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Rick_K I have nothing against MS or Windows but do see how Window's could take the biggest hit here. They hold the enterprise market which helped them grab the personal market as people bought for home what they were used to using at work. I can see enterprise embracing Chrome as a hardware cost reduction which in turn could lead to more people adopting Chrome for the personal use. Regardless, we have no idea at this point if Chrome will have an affect what so ever.
        non-biased
      • RE: If Chromebooks succeed, Mac OS X could be the hardest hit

        @Rick_K
        How do you adjust your fonts or set the DPI for your Mac? The too tiny font syndrome in Mac is the downfall of an otherwise workable, if not all that remarkable OS. Windows has more ability, customization, and good software available, which is a great advantage. Mac and Linux both work as an OS, no doubt. Let's see, Linux is free, and there is more software which is free, so they may have the edge on Mac. Mac handling of installs is pretty simple, and professional software, and such is more available for Mac than Linux, so.... For what most people do, Linux Mint would do the trick. All in all, I still prefer the performance, ease of use, and price of Windows machines and software -- I use mostly freeware.
        mytake4this
    • Windows is more likely due to the enterprise

      @zwhittaker

      Google has been increasingly pitching Chromebooks as replacements for enterprise and institutional PCs. What the OS does best -- the constant updates, minimal support, and tougher on-device security -- play into the hands of a CIO hoping to reduce overhead. As much as it's improved, Windows has a reputation for being the OS that keeps IT admins in business.

      Consider this: netbooks are on a steep decline (40 percent revenue drop at Microsoft year-over-year). A Chromebook for a home user is like a netbook that assumes you'll never want a local native app. For many, that's worse. Even an 11-inch MacBook Air is an infinitely more capable machine than either. You're paying two to three times more, but you're also getting a lot more, including the speed Google is crowing about.
      jonfingas