Apple Market Share | July 30, 2005

I spend a lot of time in front of my computer. Probably more than most. So I want to make sure that I spend as little time as possible keeping my system running. Many years ago I used to use a PC and estimate that I’d spend around 2% of my time keeping the system in good working order. That could be installing software or patches, defragging the disk, or the occasional OS reinstall. Not a huge amount of time, but it does add up. These days I use a Mac, and the amount of time I spend on maintenance has easily dropped below 0.01%.

Because I use my computer all the time, I want it to be as pleasant an experience as possible. I want my computer to help me do my work, or at least not get in my way. A few months ago I was working on site for a client and was forced to use a Windows machine for two weeks. While the OS has definitely improved in the last few years, I still get the feeling that I’m fighting against the OS rather than working with it. And while Windows XP looks a little nicer than it’s predecessor, it still feels miles behind the Mac OX. Web pages just always look at lot nicer when viewed on a Mac than a PC, which is probably why most of the screenshots you see in books are taken on a Mac.

Now before the Windows users go on the defensive, I’m not saying that OS X is perfect. Like most computer systems, it has it’s quirks, oddities and annoyances. However I truly believe that it’s the best operating system around and will stay that way for a couple of years. At least until Vista debuts.

I have quite a bit of time, money and emotional attachment invested in Apple, so would hate for anything to happen to them. There have been a few moments in recent history where there future looked uncertain, but the success of the iPod coupled with the Mac mini seem to have secured their future, at least for the next couple of years. However I want Apple to thrive and one perceived guarantee of longevity is market share.

Currently Apple has a US market share of 4.5 percent and a global market share of 2.5 percent. At first glance these figure seem pretty poor. However it’s worth putting that in perspective. 4.5 percent means that one in every 22 computers in the US is a Mac. When you think about it, that’s actually quite a lot.

Brighton seems to be the Mac capitol of the UK. Everywhere I go I see people with their iBooks or Powerbooks out. In WiFi cafes, in the park and on the beach. In fact a while ago there was a rumour circulating that outside of New York, there were more Apple computers per capita in Brighton than anywhere else in the world. Probably an urban myth, but it’s a believable one.

Most of my friends and colleagues own at least one Mac, and at conferences like SXSWi and @media, the halls are swarming with them. In fact spying a Dell or a Vaio at one of these events is a bit of an oddity.

Apple doesn’t have a huge cut of the larger computer market, but it does have a strong showing in the creative sector. Most web designers I know own a Mac or aspire to owning one. I wouldn’t say that this site is particularly Mac focused, although I do post the odd article about Apple here and there. However looking at my stats over a 6 month period shows that 26.5 percent of my site visitors are Mac users, 48 percent are Windows users and a further 23 percent are bots and news readers that don’t announce there OS.

So while Apples market share may appear small, it is actually a lot larger and more stable than you may imagine.

Posted at July 30, 2005 8:25 PM


Doj said on July 30, 2005 10:06 PM

I am still on Windows but am drifting more and more towards getting a Mac. The only thing that holds me back is software compatibility. Does anyone have any wise words on this subject?

Martin S. said on July 30, 2005 10:15 PM

Of course the OS should help you with your work and not be a pain in the ass. That’s why I often dislike Win XP because something always interrupts me in my work. I can’t move on to any Mac OS either because I know I won’t have the same possibilitites as I have now. And for sure not any other OS too..

JD said on July 30, 2005 10:34 PM

It’s great that OS X is working for you. But could you give me example of how Windows XP ‘gets in’ your way of work?

I have been using XP since its debut and I don’t know a single occasion when it got in to my way. And seriously I am not able to imagine how XP will get in to your way of working. Please enlighten me.


Stuart N. said on July 30, 2005 11:16 PM

I use both operating systems regularly in my web work. I have found that although there are parts of Windows XP that I like, I do not appreciate how much I like using OS X until I go back to an XP machine.

I think that is because on the whole my Mac just does as its told when I tell it to do it. When using a PC on the other hand, things just seem to be a little more uncertain. This was brought home to me just the other day when I networked my Mac with a colleagues XP PC at the same time as another colleague tried to network his XP laptop.

My Mac was able to pull files from the PC the moment I plugged the cable in and hit the appropriate button. The PC laptop on the other hand just refused to connect despite all setting being correct.

That sort of irregular behaviour I find the most obstructive about the XP operating system. Dodgy interfaces can be learnt and I haven’t really found that the XP PC’s I use need more maintenance than my Mac - although thinking about it the PC’s do have a dedicated techy fella to keep them in line.

It is easy to get accustomed to the fact that using a computer can be difficult at times when using a PC after all computers are complicated machines, but more often that not my Mac shows me it doesn’t have to be that way and it does so without fanfare.

Rimantas said on July 31, 2005 12:15 AM

I will definitely increase Apple’s market share as soon as I can aford it. Just a thought I had today: what if Apples offers some discount for iPod owners buying Mac?

And if anyone hasn’t seen this post
Tell Microsoft it’s YOUR passion — I highly recommend it (and that wonderful blog too).

Faruk Ateş said on July 31, 2005 12:20 AM

I, too, have become eager to get my first Mac soon. @media was definitely something that helped convince me — seeing so many use powerbooks and seeing how they were used (I watched Joe liveblog and Cindy manage contacts, for instance) made me all too interested.

OS X just seems to have a certain elegance, something that I’ve always found lacking in Windows in the first place.

Britt said on July 31, 2005 3:41 AM

I would agree, Andy, and I spend more hours on an XP box than I do on my Powerbook. The one thing I try to do on my XP box is avoid running any MS apps. They tend to give me the most problems.

The XP box takes forever to boot up, and I don’t get as quality feedback when something does go wrong. I often lose mappings to apps on the XP box, so I always have to tell it over and over what app to use to open certain files. For example, if I get a Word doc as an attachment and double click it, nothing happens. Hell, I can open a Word doc as an attachment on my Mac and I don’t even have Word installed.

There are plenty more examples like that.

shawn said on July 31, 2005 5:23 AM

I work on both - I’m on XP at work and am all OS X at home as well at all of my previous jobs. Work has been a constant struggle. The XP machine I’m on now is no longer a testbed, it is for coding and design only. All the testing goes off on a Gentoo box because having Apache and MySQL on XP seemed to wreak havok on the system. It was very unstable when acting as a webserver.

That having been fixed the XP box is still a struggle. Since I do a little print work on the XP box as well I inevitably have to print a large file or two. This can bring the system - a 2.4ghz Xeon with a gig of Ram - to its knees. If I print a large PDF and then switch programs it can take up to 30 seconds to load the other application, unless it is a Microsoft application. Microsoft applications load from virtual memory significantly quicker - this is true in any situation - it is pretty obvious that the OS gives special consideration to MS apps over other apps.

I’ll sometimes go to pick my job up off the printer, pick it up, and come back to error messages that the job failed to print. I still don’t understand that one.

On top of that I have been through 5 text editors including Zend Studio, UltraEdit, Eclipse, and Adobe GoLive just to get a text editor that doesn’t in some way drop characters, write backwards (yes, you read that correctly) or fail to correctly handle its memory and process undo commands correctly. We’ve wasted a lot of time and money on support phone calls to Adobe and the issues are still unresolved. I still get heckled for being a Mac user despite having my laptop picking up the work that the XP machine can’t handle or picking up the slack when the XP machine is being rebuilt by IT.

My Macs just run, and they run everything I need to use to do developing on a single machine - including 2 versions of PHP and two different versions of Apache. I run 4 Macs at home, one with OS X Server, and my wife uses a Mac at work that requires no attention compared to the PCs around her.

You are absolutely right in that the Mac is easier to maintain. I’ll add that when using only Microsoft Applications that a Windows machine can be stable and useful but once you add 3rd party applications into the mix problems can, and will, arise.

That’s not to say that OS X is without bugs - but I will say that I’ve never had a bug on OS X cost a full day’s work or forced me to find another application to work in.

Jaded? Me? nah… ;) Sorry for the rampage.

Marko Samastur said on July 31, 2005 7:50 AM

I use Linux, Mac and Windows and really dislike only the last one. It just seems to ask too many questions.

However, I can’t say I’m really satisfied with any of them, since all have their quirks and problems and I guess Linux is the one where I spend the least amount of time fixing them, probably because I know it best and because I spent more time on Powerbook these days.

What bothers me more is that I seem to have problems with almost every device I buy from Apple (so far Powerbook, iMac and iPod). Are they sending more crappy stuff to this part of the world or I just don’t have any luck whatsoever?

My wife’s iPhoto just lost track of 3000 pictures. They are still there in its folders, but iPhoto doesn’t see them even if you rebuild its library. This sort of stuff is the reason I pine for new Linux box these days. I can put up with limitations and quirks, as long as I feel my data is safe and can be easily used by other programs and neither is true for iPhoto.

Small Paul said on July 31, 2005 2:34 PM

Not only is Apple’s market share reasonable, but Mac users are passionate buggers. For many of us, our computer is part of our identity, and we’ll happily buy Macs until we die. I doubt anyone would write a book called The Cult Of Dell.

Mike D. said on July 31, 2005 4:54 PM

Coupla of important facts to note as well:

1. If you look at it from a hardware perspective, Apple is right up there with the fifth numbers of PC shipments of all computer makers. They aren’t within striking distance of 1 or 2 (Dell and HP), but they are within a few percentage points of 3 and 4 (Gateway and IBM).

2. What fun would driving a BMW be if everyone had BMWs? As long as they can drive on the same roads as all the other cars on the road, I’m quite satisfied to be driving the better car.

Ben Palmer said on July 31, 2005 7:10 PM

I use my WinXP every day (including weekends) mostly professionally. What do you understand by maintenance? Checking oil levels? Cleaning the windscreen? 0.01% when working every day of the year for 8 hours a day that’s equivalent to 18 minutes per year. On my WinXP, it takes me 3 mouse clicks to start defragging, 1 mouse click to empty the waste basket. Ever since the WinXP Beta, I have not had one single crash, never re-installed WinXP. My PC is web server, Coldfusion server, ftp server, LAN member, and development machine, all-in-one.

Peter Asquith said on August 1, 2005 12:44 AM

A timely post: To replace my aging Win2K desktop at home I’ve just been through the decision of whether to move to a PowerBook or stay with Windows. In the event my head settled on a Dell laptop despite a very strong emotional pull towards the Apple. Alas, it came down to a combination of features and price. The Dell gave me more-or-less identical features as the Mac but with a higher resolution screen, a larger, faster hard drive, twice the RAM and all for two-thirds of the price. In addition, I would have had to buy a suite of graphics software for the Mac, which would have meant nearly a doubling of the cost of moving to the PowerBook. I’m working on accepting the fact that I’m going to look somewhat out of place at Web Essentials ‘05. Hmmm…

However, to complete a major splurge, we bought an iBook, to replace my wife’s decrepit laptop, and have become very attached to it - as, indeed, we had a feeling we might! It’s a combination of aesthetic and emotional attachment. The Mac just begs to be used and, in general, it is a much more seamless user experience than I’ve seen on Linux or Windows. This is probably explained by Apple having built the (beautiful) hardware, developed the OS and created most of the applications that we use on it - so it should be jolly seamless.

With respect to Windows, though, I’ve been using Windows NT; Win2K and XP at work for over a decade and have found that they are pretty well maintenance-free if the hardware is compatible. The problem is that most Windows boxes are a hodge-podge of third party components and drivers - hence the flakey performance that we often hear about. With a stable hardware setup Windows can be very strong.

So, to conclude this ramble, I think Apple’s market share will increase if it can meet the price/performance expectations of the consumer. It certainly has the emotional expectations nailed!

pylorns said on August 1, 2005 4:28 AM

I mainly stick to Windows boxes, but soon I’m going to migrate over to a mac specfically for web design. That said i’ll never be able to port over because of the lack of software support for mac, ie. they are always so far behind - like you can’t run CS or Bf2 on a mac…

wayne-o said on August 1, 2005 6:55 AM

I recently installed Vista B1 on my spare laptop and was quite impressed with the new visuals as well as the functionality. They have done a lot of work on presentation of Vista and I think that it may be enough to match or better Mac. I have a Mac Mini and was shocked at the quality of the font rendering etc on it, excellent. I know that MS have taken peoples thoughts regarding this and have spent a lot of time correcting it. The downside to all this being that when I tried installing MySQL and PHP on it, it froze, got uninstalled and now looks like server 2003!!!! Oh well. It is a beta after all!!

Clifford said on August 1, 2005 4:07 PM

Macs? You’ve got to be kidding.
Which Macs have you guys been using? I’ve been in the design and ad industry for a very long time and whilst I admit that W95 and W98 had major issues, the latest ops since 2000 have been absolutely stable. The Macs we have (we still need them to converse with the backward industry) sit in the corner of the studio routinely crashing, with no apps on them at all… I’m most shocked by this thread as I was under the impression that this was a progressive group of people!

AdrienneA said on August 1, 2005 11:11 PM

Why is it that I hear of so many people who “want” to get a Mac? Why not ‘just do it’?

Worthiness can be as much based on wants and desires as upon tangible values such as quality & reliability. The cachet associated with owning an Apple product is huge. But please, don’t confuse cachet with value. Individuals tend to overlook shortcomings related to things (or people) in which one has a large investment.

The poster who mentioned problems with Apple hardware has given voice to Apple’s dirty little secret—you pay more, a LOT more, for Apple hardware, with no real assurance that it will be any more reliable than good-quality PC parts. (One only has to examine Apple’s warranties to realize that.) It is a comfortable fiction that Macs are completely reliable and stable.

I’ll never convert a true believer— that’s the nature of the beast. I do tire a bit of Macists looking down their noses at the non-Mac world, that somehow we don’t “get it”, that we are poor lost souls waiting to be taken up to the Light…

Matt Wilcox said on August 2, 2005 8:20 AM

I dislike the default Windows XP set up, it’s annoying and messy. I dislike it always defaulting to ‘My Documents’, which I never use. To be sure it’s got it’s fair share of annoyances - BUT I can customise it very easilly, and get it to behave how I want. A properly set up XP is a great environment to work in, and it never gets in my way.

OSX looks awesome, and it seems to follow a better defined work-flow and operating methodology, but it too has it’s annoyances. One of those being the hype. OSX is differnet, but it’s not inherently better or worse. It drove me mad with it’s stupid alien methodologies (one mouse button, maximise doesn’t actually maximise, close doesn’t close the application, just the document…). I can see myself getting used to the way OSX works though, and when I do I’ll be happy with it.

An OS is just a tool to get the job done, as long as I can understand it and work with it, I’m happy.

Terry said on August 10, 2005 5:25 AM

I also use mac and really the time used for maintainence in mac is much less than time consumed in windows.

Terry said on August 10, 2005 5:26 AM

I also use mac and really the time used for maintainence in mac is much less than time consumed in windows. Terry

Filip Anton said on August 12, 2005 6:44 PM

Mac may be great, yes. But I have a few objections. Please don’t take it against me. A long comment follows.

1. First thing, I dislike eye candy, it distracts me from my work.

Using a computer should be simple.

In the same idea, you may use 0.01% of time maintaining your computer, but you spend about 5% of the time looking at beautiful animations.

And if you think that effects happen by themselves think again. It takes processor power and time. So you actually use your Mac less by a very small ammount. No big though.

(I disabled ALL my time-taking nice-looking thingies from Windows XP. They are annoying.)

2. By default GUI means that you take more time to do something. Excepting things like drawing or modelling.

Gui is object driven. That is, you have multiple actions for each object. Console (Linux especially) is action driven. That is you have multiple objects for each action, and you can pipe them into other actions.

If you want to do five things to one object, you do it in less time in a GUI (but how many times did you archived, moved, renamed, and deleted one folder?), but if you want to do one action for a lot of things (which is usually the case) you do it faster in a console.

Even if you think it otherwise, GUI actually is more time consuming. Most people arrange their lives by actions, not by objects. Using Linux would mean using 10% of the time managing the system, but in the same and 5% of the time using it. While Mac would say, i manage the sytem in 0.02% and use the sytem in 60% of the time (the 6% in Linux!) It takes you about twice as much clicks to do one thing, but takes you more words for the same command, but you type faster than you click! So you end up doing more without GUI, about 10 times as more.

Windows suffered the most since it had no usabled console. Well, it does now with UNIX services for Windows.

Typing in a console the same things you click with your one button mouse takes less time, even if you think it does not. Even with the mighty mouse it takes more time.

I think MAC has bash shell now, but nobody is probably using it. Who would hive up clicking for typing?

3. I agree that MAC looks better than Windows but I completely disagree that Mac OS X is the best OS out there. Read further down.

In the case of people who lack computer skills Mac is good. For example artists.

But techies stick with Linux. Actually the smartest and the dumbest people use Windows. So Mac users are mediocre people, usually modellers, businessmen, or artists. That’s why they have a market share, since the big players buy macs cause they look good and feel nice. 1 out of 22 people are rich men. And who do you think own a mac?

4. All those arguments above are weak arguments. Here is the strong one.

Mac supporty very little hardware. You need a Mac compliant hardware to do your stuff. And is not very cheap.

For people who like to experiment a lot, Mac is not only stupid, but useless.

You can put a x86 with some stripped version of Linux (or Windows with a pice of software) to control a car. But not with a Mac.

Windows is famous for the amount of hardware it supports. Linux for its OpenSource. And x86 for it’s widespread. Mac is famous for looking good.

Best OS?:
And as an extra for the person who wrote this article. The best OS that ever existed on the face of this planet was probably BeOS.

It died because Apple would not want anything to do with it.

But ideas from BeOS pop up in Mac OS. For exampled dragging and dropping to install applications. BeOS used bash console and other UNIX programs, pipeing, etc (which I belive were implemented only later in Mac OS).

Remember that at the time there was no Mac OS.

Also, BeOS was conformed to POSIX where you can take any sourcecode for Linux or Windows XP and compiled easily on BeOS, no headacke. Zeta, the only living offspring of BeOS feature MS Office and Firefox.

Yes, Mac OS is POSIX too.

But contrasting to Mac OS, BeOS did not have ANY eye candy. Everything was fast and done instantly. You could do impossible things like running 100 programs in the same time and still have the computer responding. Try that in Windows! I don’t think mac os does that. Linux is the only OS i’ve seen able to do a lot f things in the same time, and do them good.

Even now that BeOS is pretty nice, after 5 years since it was killed by Apple in 2001.

AdrienneA, most people WANT to go Macs and cannot because of $$. Macs are not for everyone. And if you compare price versus quality, Mac actually costs more than its worth. And you cannot replace parts easily.

And Dell cost twice for no reason. And replacing parts might ruin your system. Chose Mac over Dell any time. Dell does not make standard computers, even if they say so. They use cheap componets with powerfull ones and add a lot of price for the 100 pound case they create, and more $$$ because is Dell.

Etienne said on August 18, 2005 9:12 PM

hi andy — i am sitting behind my computer a lot of my time doing graphic design in my own studio. as you might imagine - its a mac (which is running smoothly). BUT: maintainance has since times been more than 2% even if it dropped impressingly in the last two years). arent you underestimating the time you spend to keep your system wellorganized, running and uptodate. take an adobe-update from CS1 to CS2 - just organizing all my personalized shortcuts in indesign again after the updater corrupted the CS1-file took two hours. or take an update from typeit4you thats keeps my from logging into my system after i installed the newest version (i read the readme…). just to little examples.. and i am not telling you the story of dead firewire ports, crushed harddrives.
i think that to keep the three macs in good shape i have to invest far more than 5% of my working hours.
be honest - how about you? — take care, great site, etienne

james said on August 20, 2005 5:32 PM

I too like the look/feel/operation of the the MAC, but will stick primarily to WinXp and 2K because of a few PC only apps that I am very addicted to. That and I am too accustomed to XP now.

As I see it, Apple has two advantages that make it appear better/more stable then WinXP: 1. dedicated hardware, of course it is much easier creating a stable OS when you have control over the hardware. It also helps that Apple uses better hardware then most every PC maker. 2. Because Apple comes out with new updates for the OS so often, Mac users have the opportunity to regularly ‘reinstall’ their OS. Having lived with Win9x/NT for eight years, I can tell you that this has a big impact on the performance of the machine.

I really do not like that Apple keeps charging so much for their upgrades. This ruins the argument that owning a MAC can cost as little, or less, then a PC. On the other hand, MS is making a fool of itself with the absence of a follow to XP. Don’t get me wrong, I generally like XP, but Longhorn/Vista has been far to long in the making.

Also, keeping XP free of other MS apps is a good idea as mentioned in an earlier post. Office and WMP 10 really don’t play nice. But worse is Yahoo’s Music Engine. That has crashed many times, and for the first time, froze XP. I was shocked, but it did bring back memories of 95 and 98. I am one of those weirdos who likes ‘Plays for Sure’, so I have an iRiver H10 20 gig and use Yahoo Music Engine. It is cheap and I have access to a lot more (leased) music now and I am happy about that. But it sucks in every other way. The iPod and iTunes are still the leaders by a wide margin.

I can also confirm XP’s networking glitches, I have seen that a lot. Whereas with Apple, they always just seem to be there. I have a MAC that I got to check how my web pages work on Safari and to do video editing. I am a MAC novice and was nervous when I went to plug it into my PC dominated network. I did not read any instructions, I just made a few logical clicks, and there is was. I could not believe how easy that was. And iTunes figured out that it had a sister on my PC all on its own. That was scary. Stuff that just works. And then I plugged in my video camera and went rummaging around looking for a ‘driver’ for it until I noticed that the MAC had already made friends with it.

I may get a lot of flak for this observation but here goes: I have noticed that there are two kinds of people who use MACs, really stupid people and really smart people. I have not fully figured this out yet, but it always seems to be the case. Most of the rest of us are in the middle and using Windows. I said most, yes, there are very smart people who use Windows and a lot of dumb people who use Dells, I mean Windows.

Daniel Foot said on August 26, 2005 1:44 PM

Hello All,
I recently purchased a new Mac after weighing up my options. My housemate recommended me buying a new computer but after seeing him having to reformat his PC laptop, having been attacked by viruses, I was put off buying a PC. He used to say it would take him around 6 hours to reformat his harddrive.

At the moment I am hoping my Mac will see me through a web design course and I am not at any disadvantage owning a Mac. If anyone has had experience using Dreamweaver MX, Flash MX and InDesign, I would like to hear if a Mac will allow me to flourish in this industry.

I grew up with the Commodore 64 and Amiga and the Mac reminds me more of the Amiga than does the PC so I guess I feel more at home on a Mac.



usetobeapcguy said on October 18, 2005 5:11 AM

I spent three years of training on PCs and entered the work force when Win 98 was dominant. If you have every tried to install anything, particularly hardware, on 98 you know that 98 is possibly the worst operating system ever!. After a while I got a job with a school district that had all Macs. At first I made my recommendations for them to get with the times and go PC. Besides that is what everyone says. After two weeks in the new job with Macs I had learned the OS inside and out and never had a problem since. I run about 200 computers on less than 15 minutes tech time per day. The rest is support for applications and instruction. I will never go back to PC. As a matter of fact I am a Mac convert. If you do your research Macs outperform PC in MTOPS. Never heard about it? Millions of theoretical operations per second is the benchmark the government uses for determining performance for the purpose of deciding what computers can go to nations on the restricted list like Pakistan and China. Apple is up at the top even for their low end models. Check out or something like that. If you do not believe those numbers you can use the links on their site to go directly to the manufactures and look at their tech specs. Apples cost less than a simliar PC system. 1200 will get you a 17 inch lcd screen, 80 gig drive at 1.9 ghz. PC Equivalent would be 4.0 ghz.

Yeah, I still have a PC. Strictly for running Civilization. I am considering buying the emulator and turning my back on PC for good and forever.

If you want a computer that works, and not a computer that you have to work on buy a Mac.

If 1 in 22 computers are macs, then 1 in 22 repair shops should be mac right? Look in your phonebook and see what you see. There are so many PC repair techs because you need that many.

Almost everyone knows how to fix problems or has become some kind of expert on working on PCs and fixing their problems. Mac users just work on their computers.

J RAY said on January 25, 2006 8:17 PM

>> Typical software installation on a PC:
Double click the istallation icon.
Installation program opens dialogue box asks you if you would like to install.
Asks where you’d like to install.
System begins putting drivers and system files into your system directories.
Asks for your name and phone number and other information for registry. If it’s a Microsoft product, you will have to call a toll-free number to confirm that you really own the software.
Installs icons on your desktop, toolbar, or wherever else it likes.
You’re done.

>>Typical software installation on a Mac:
Drag your application icon into your Applications folder.
You’re done.