Switcher to Mac tells what's wrong with Windows

Switcher to Mac tells what's wrong with Windows

Summary: Apple has said for years that more than half of Apple Store Mac sales go to customers new to the platform. We can expect that this percentage will be climbing with Apple's China focus. But here and abroad, the "switchers" are making a choice about Windows, one that must concern Redmond even a little.


Apple will host its fiscal first quarter analyst call on Wednesday, and the company's naysayers will hear if the quarter's iPhone 5 sales were sufficient for the grossly overinflated expectations. However, I expect that Mac sales will likely hit yet another new mark, driven by switchers to the platform.

The company often tells analysts that, yet again, sales of Macs in the Apple Stores have been to customers new to the Mac. And certainly, that trend will continue, particularly with the new stores in China.

At the last earnings call in October, Timothy Cook, Apple's CEO, answered a question about China sales and mentioned the Mac. These sales have to be going new Mac users.

Yeah, Shannon, it's Tim. In terms of what we saw in China for Q4, revenue was $5.7 billion; that's up 26 percent year-on-year, Mac was up extremely strong, up 44 percent. As you recall, we launched portables for the first time in July, or the portables that we have previously announced in U.S. in June, we announced that in China in July.

At the conference call, Apple said that it had sold over 4.9 million Macs, which was a new record for the September quarter. Yes, it wasn't a proud result, being only 1 percent growth year over year. However, IDC said that the PC market was down 8 percent in the September quarter.

Cook also talked about cannibalization of Macs by the iPad platform. His answer was intriguing:

Customers will decide which one, or two, or three, or all four, that they would like and will buy those, and so we've learned over the years not to worry about cannibalization of our own products. It's much better for us to do that than somebody else to do it, and the far, far bigger opportunity here are the 80 million to 90 million PCs that are being sold per quarter. There are still over 300 million PCs being bought per year, and I think a great number of those people would be much better of buy[ing] an iPad or a Mac. And so that's a much bigger opportunity for Apple, and so instead of being focused on cannibalizing ourselves, and I look at it in much more that it's an enormous incremental opportunity for us. That's how I look at it.

This is all about the iPad's halo effect. This time, instead of being the iPod or the iPhone, it's the iPad. The Mac is bolstered by new users who are switching from Windows. Cook is right--switchers are coming into Apple Stores to look at the iPad, and leaving with a Mac and an iPad.

Of course, Redmond keeps helping Apple out with its chaotic strategies. The installed base aren't buying the Windows refresh pitch this time.

I am a witness to this switch. My neighbor just bought an iMac from our local Apple Store. He's loving it and signing up for classes. He said the machine was the most beautiful piece of technology he's ever owned. You could hear the pleasure in his voice.

Now, this guy has never owned a Mac. Ever. I carpooled with him when I worked at MacWEEK in the 1990s, and he was immune from the slightest hint of Mac inoculation. He was a proud PC DOS user and graduated to various flavors of Windows. He told me many times that he would "never, ever buy a Mac." But now, a new iMac sits on his desk.

I asked him what had happened? Why not buy a new Windows machine? He said simply that "back in those days, Windows worked. It's stopped working."

It's that simple. Now, we might have a debate about the definition of "work," but his confidence in the Wintel platform was evidently strained to the breaking point. And we all can agree that the new iMac is beautiful.

Even the most steadfast of anti-Apple/pro-PC users have proved susceptible to switching. Here's what my colleague Jason Perlow said in a wonderful rant in 2009. The post was titled Apple faithful: Arrogance is not a virtue, and why I will never buy a Mac.

So why won't I own a Mac? Well, for starters, I'm a systems integration expert by profession--as in what I do that pays my day to day bills--and the systems that I work with and architect are based on Windows as well as Mid-range/Enterprise platforms like Linux, VMWare, UNIX ,and mainframes.

The Mac, for all its insane greatness and cool factor, as well as having all the DNA to make it an enterprise platform, doesn't get a lot of traction in large enterprises, so there isn't a lot of motivation for me to own a system which has no bearing on stuff that I work with to make a living.

Additionally, most of the off-the-shelf tools which I work with that I need to do my job--Microsoft Office, Visio, and Microsoft Project are all Windows applications. Indeed, you can get Office for Mac, and you can even dual boot a Mac into Windows, but what would be the point? Why not just buy a PC?

Why would I incur a large personal expense on a Mac for home use when my laptop is corporate managed and issued to me as a company asset, and when all our line of business systems are Web and Java-based? If anything, I want my personal assets to be compatible with what I work with.

And if I am going to use an alternative platform to Windows as either a desktop or a server, I'll use Linux, because it has a huge library of Open Source software. Mac can use Open Source software too, but why bother if I can buy a commodity PC which I can purchase for a fraction of the cost?

What, never a Mac? Well, hardly ever. Or whatever.

Nowadays, even Mr. Never Perlow can feel good about recommending a MacBook Pro.

Topics: Apple, Laptops, Windows, Windows 8

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  • Your neighbor / carpool buddy?

    Well done. Your incessant babbling pushed him over the edge.

    I'll buy a Mac, just please shut up already ...

    Yup that will make AAPLs quarterly results
    • Hahahaha

      Thanks for the lol.
      • You are pleased by nonsense

        Had to find some reason to stop panicking did you?
    • Actually, the most "incessant babblers" are Windows users

      In my own circle of relatives and friends, I know of at least 10 people who switched from Windows to Mac, and have sworn that they will never switch back. On the other hand, not a single longtime Mac user in that group has ever switched (or plan to switch) to Windows!

      Some of those former Windows users were the loudest pro-Windows and anti-Mac people you could ever meet. After switching to Mac they have become the loudest Mac fans and supporters in the group.

      For years, those former Windows users looked for any reason (mostly invalid reasons) to cling to Windows, and to denigrate Macs and Mac users.

      They would say that Macs were "over priced"... which may be true when comparing low quality, el-cheapo PCs to high quality, better spec'd Macs... because Apple doesn't make cheaply made and spec'd products to compete with $300 Netbooks and other low-end Windows PCs. But if you compare "Apple's to apples" you find that Apple's hardware is actually LESS expensive in many cases. For example, the MacBook Air when compared to similarly spec'd "UltraBooks"... and there are no additional costs down the road as with Windows PCs (e.g. Anti-virus subscriptions, down time, operating system upgrades, etc.).

      Another laughable comment I used to hear from those former Windows users, was that Windows is a "serious" operating system while Mac OS X is a "toy" operating system. Somehow they believed that Windows, which has security problems and thousands of viruses, and was never designed originally as a networked operating system, was "serious". On the other hand, they considered the Mac's UNIX-based operating system, with a long history of ZERO viruses, and much less likely to crash or need re-installing than Windows, to be a "toy"?

      Some Windows users, like the former Windows users I know, live in a cocoon of misinformation about Macs and Apple products. It is only when they step outside that cocoon (or feel forced out) that they actually learn the reality of what lies beyond the Windows enclave.
      Harvey Lubin
      • android

        Yes and all those Mac haters refused to by an iPhone even though it was held as innovative when it was released. They held out for Android to catch up before buying a useable touchscreen smartphone and now are doing the same thing with that product. Same with tablets.
        • No we had a usable touchscreen mobile device

          Just because you don't remember them, they still existed.
          Little Old Man
          • Wrong!

            He's talking about multi-touch hardware and operating system... the iPhone was the first in 2007.

            Yes, there were single-touch screens before, starting with the Apple Newton and then the Palm Pilot, in the 1990's. This ancient and limited "touch" was used on some phones before the iPhone came out. But it took almost 3 years after the iPhone was introduced, before Google came out with the first Android multi-touch phone the Nexus One in 2010.
            Harvey Lubin
        • bollox

          You cannot compare android to iphone in this context, it does not apply.
          I sent my iphone back the same day and got an Android, and now I have a samsung galaxy, it vastly superior and You will find plenty of diehard iphone fans who tried a samsung and were surprised how much better it is and switched.
          Everything Apple make is not better, sorry.
          Capt Obvious
          • It's not that clear cut

            I have the 5th gen iPod Touch (which is like iPhone 5 without the phone), and Galaxy S2 (I've played around with the S3). Both have their strengths and weaknesses and it's up to you to figure out what's best for you.

            Both Android and iOS have their shortcomings. Android still lags and is not quite as snappy or responsive as iPhone 5. Note, I'm not saying the S3 is laggy or unresponsive, it's just not as responsive as iPhone 5. The S3 is also made of plastic.

            iOS's alerts are not very good and Android's use of Google Maps for navigation is superior to the iPhone. It's the reason I bought my Galaxy phone, but for all round use, I like my iPod Touch because of the retina screen and the large selection of high quality apps for which Android is lacking. Yes, Android has large selection of apps, but they are not the same quality as iOS.
          • My 2 Cents

            I'm rebut your argument about the Galaxy S3 being plastic so it's a less attractive choice over the the iPhone 5. Have you seen a aluminum iPhone 5 after a couple months of normal use? They look pretty banged up. Not my 'plastic' S3, looks just as good as the day I bought it. And to add, the S3 and Android is far from laggy as you commented, the S3, Droid DNA, DROID Maxx, Note II are all flagship devices and lag has never been a gripe that I've experienced or read in a review. Jellybean and Project Butter has deadened the debate many iPhone pundits have attempted to argue about Android.

            Back to the Mac switchers. I switched to Mac 7 years ago, coming from a systems engineer/admin background using Windows and Linux. I had told myself that I would never use Apple because I hated the arrogance of many Mac users. It was when Apple introduces the first Intel CPU Macbook Pro that I decided to take the plunge. I figured I would be able to dual boot Windows and I would have the best of both worlds. I quickly understood why Mac users enjoyed Macs so much - they just worked. I never had to deal with virues, system crashed, lag, driver issues and many other issues I dealt with on PCs. My Macbook Pro did everything I wanted and I didn't even need Windows to do it.
            7 years and 2 Macbook Pros later I wouldn't go back to being a full-fledged Windows user if I was paid to, especially after how disappointing Windows 8 is shaping up to be. My computing experience has been forever changed on the Mac and all my friends and family are converting to Mac and finding the experience refreshing. I recently found out one of my anti-Mac friends has been putting together a Hackintosh so he can use OSX. I told him, "Stop being cheap and my the real deal."
          • No Change

            The Mac (OS X) and i-stuff (iOS) works the way it has always worked - keep multitasking to a minimum so you don't have to handle complicated things. It keeps it familiar which is a reason why many Windows users switch to Mac - Windows is just advancing too fast!
            Right now I have only 7 applications open - well it is only Sunday night. I'm uploading using FileZilla, whilst writing a report in Word using figures from my simulation model in Excel, and I've got EndNote (references and citations for my report) together with email and this browser - yeah yeah I'm on a break! Whereas the Mac users I know have a word processor open when they are writing, and a photo or video editor open when they are being creative, but not usually all at once.
            I can see why the Mac appeals, it's horses for courses
          • Just switched from lifetime use of Windows

            I'm running a humble i7 Mac Mini. I too have 7 apps open: Activity Monitor, Safari, Adobe Bridge, Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat, and Lightroom 4. Switching between them is very quick. Free memory per Activity Monitor: 6.7 GB out of 16 GB total. I don't normally participate in OS debates, I just like my Mac better than I've liked Windows in many years. I don't identify with a machine, for god's sake, but I just had to show that Mac OS multitasks well, although the above post partakes of a myth that I believed for a long time.
            Robert Meppelink
          • Plastic is light

            Note 2 is over 80 bigger than an iPhone 4s, but only 28% heavier.

            No one would buy one if they were made of metal as they would be too heavy.
          • It comes down to personal preference

            You will certainly find past iPhone users that switched to Android just as you will find former Android users that are now happy iPhone users. Not trying to compete on this but since you wanted to stats consistently show that more people move from Android to the iPhone than the other way around. Just because you prefer one doesn't make it the best for everyone else.
          • Even Apple think that Android is great!

            What was it the Apple head of design said, to get a $1bn award against Samsung? That she couldn't tell the difference between the two phones when using them? I think she thought "the one that was better, I assumed was the iPhone. So when it turned out not to be, I just said I couldn't tell the difference".
            If Apple's own top folks can't tell the difference, no wonder everyone else is buying Android by the tens of millions of units
            Oh - for those who think it's embarrassing that Google have iPads in their R&D dept - wouldn't you have your competitors' products in your R&D labs?
        • I only thought MS-fans made those sorts of comments

          Shall we start referring to Apple as PIPA (poor innocent persecuted Apple) to go along with PIPMS? People are no more obligated to patronize MS than they are to patronize MS. If they don't want to buy Apple products, that's their choice.
          John L. Ries
          • Please let me edit

            "People are no more obligated to patronize Apple than they are to patronize MS."

            ...or anyone else for that matter.
            John L. Ries
      • I'm not seeing a lot of ex-Windows users...

        ...looking to go back to Windows, no matter that the new platform is. Windows users are still the majority and that's not likely to change soon, but support for the platform has always been a mile wide and an inch deep.
        John L. Ries
        • Majority share of the market isn't going to change anytime soon but

          I am constantly surprised at the number of businesses that I deal with that are now running OSX. Apple is gaining market share in home use for sure but also in small business. I don't see OSX ever getting to majority share of the market but their user base is definitely growing. I still use Windows for work and don't see that changing anytime soon but have switched all our personal systems at home to OSX over the past 18 months and have no desire to switch back. That doesn't mean Windows isn't good, we just prefer OSX and I know a lot of people that have also made the switch in the past few years.
      • Windows vs OS X

        "In my own circle of relatives and friends, I know of at least 10 people who switched from Windows to Mac, and have sworn that they will never switch back. On the other hand, not a single longtime Mac user in that group has ever switched (or plan to switch) to Windows!"

        FYI, the world is bigger than the 10 people you knew change from Windows to OS X. At the same time, I know of customers and friends moving from OS X to Windows. Still doesn't mean anything.

        "For example, the MacBook Air when compared to similarly spec'd "UltraBooks"... and there are no additional costs down the road as with Windows PCs (e.g. Anti-virus subscriptions, down time, operating system upgrades, etc.)."

        The MBA is a great machine, but there are options as good or better, like the Lenovo X1 Carbon. Regarding the additional costs, because AV subscriptions, MS did same as Apple, they included an integrated malware scanner free of cost. On down time, it would be valid if you compare it to Windows XP. Windows 7/8 is very stable, so I don't see how it's better or worse than OS X. And how different is OS X upgrades vs Windows upgrades? Can you give details?

        "On the other hand, they considered the Mac's UNIX-based operating system, with a long history of ZERO viruses, and much less likely to crash or need re-installing than Windows, to be a "toy"?"

        Interesting that the only UNIX OS that includes an integrated malware scanner is OS X. Too sad...

        "Some Windows users, like the former Windows users I know, live in a cocoon of misinformation about Macs and Apple products. It is only when they step outside that cocoon (or feel forced out) that they actually learn the reality of what lies beyond the Windows enclave."

        The same could apply to OS X users...