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Understanding the 2017 Mac market, in pictures

If you think the Mac is just a small bit of Apple's overall business, you'd be right. But if you think the Mac market is small, you'd be very, very wrong.
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1 of 14 David Gewirtz

Let's look at the Mac market

When Apple disclosed its plans for a revised Mac Pro earlier this year, the company brought a select group of tech reporters to Cupertino. The stats in this slideshow are derived from the reports of John Gruber and Lance Ulanoff.

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2 of 14 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Installed base of Macintosh

The Mac user base is about 100 million, according to Apple.

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iPhone sales are strong

While it took 33 years for the Mac to hit 100 million users, it took Apple only three months to sell 78 million iPhones this year.

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Five percent of Macs in use sold this year

Even though the Mac's been around for a long time, more than 5 percent of the installed base bought Macs this year.

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Is the Mac insignificant?

Compared to the iPhone, the Mac sales level seems insignificant.

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Apple brings in a lot of Mac revenue

But Apple brings in $25B in Mac annual revenue. That's not small potatoes.

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Here's a key comparison

In fact, according to Fortune, the Mac business is bigger than McDonalds. I know. It surprised us, too.

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Mac, as a company, would be big

To say it slightly differently, if the Mac was its own company (like Apple's FileMaker is its own company), MacCo would be bigger than the company that makes Big Macs.

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Not a lot of pro use of Macs

But... let's look at it from a different perspective. Only about 30 percent of all Mac users do pro-level work. And we're not talking every day here. We're talking about launching a pro app once a month.

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Serious users are even less common

When you get to the really serious users of Macs, those who use pro-level apps at least once a week, we're looking at only 15 percent of the user base. I wonder what that makes folks like me, who live in pro-apps almost all day, every day?

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This explains a lot

For most Mac users, then, it probably doesn't matter if they use a Mac or an iPad. It's really just about 15 percent of the market that really, really cares about the power in a Mac. The gotcha? You're talking about 15 million or so people who are making and influencing and building all the stuff most everyone else is consuming.

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Most use laptops

This goes straight to the point of why Apple pays more attention to laptops. It's odd, though, why Apple has yet to put 32GB or more of RAM in a laptop. That would sooth many pros, and keep the business simpler.

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Let's wrap things up

There is no doubt the Mac market is big. It's not Windows big and it's not iPhone big, but anything bigger than McDonalds is big.

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But the iPhone is so much bigger

Then again, anything -- pretty much anything -- compared to the iPhone is going to seem small. Except, maybe, Android.

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