The comparison of market share growth for iOS devices compared to Mac OS X computers over the last two years is interesting.
Mobile/Tablet Devices – iOS has seen rapid growth as the iPhone maintained its popularity in the mobile market whilst the iPad increased its total domination of the tablet market.
According to IDC figures, Apple’s iPad rose to an incredible 68% share of the tablet market in the last quarter of 2011 – for many people iPad is synonymous with tablet computer, the yardstick against which all others are measured (and all too often found wanting).
The new iPad (3) looks likely to further cement that position – at a time when shipments from a key competitor, the Kindle Fire, collapsed to 4% in Q4 2011.
The overall mobile/tablet operating system share over the last 2 years is shown below (per NetMarketShare)
iOS increased steadily during the period from 40% (a narrow lead over Java ME) in May 2010 to 63% last month. By contrast, Java ME plummeted from 36% to less than 12%, Symbian faces obscurity after dropping from 12% to 2% and RIM troubles continue as Blackberry dropped from 3% to 2%.
The only other winner during the last two years was Google’s Android – up from 5% to 19%. However, the rate of Android’s increase has slowed dramatically – it added 10% in the first year but less than 5% in the second year. These figures suggest that Android stole market share from Java ME and Symbian in the early days, not from iOS.
Now those ‘easy wins’ have been achieved there is far less scope for Android growth unless it can truly compete against iOS – in the tablet market especially, this seems unlikely whilst the Android ecosystem remains so fragmented by heavily ‘skinned’ tablets like the Kindle Fire.
Looking at the figures, Java ME still has some way to fall – after that it becomes a two horse race with only one obvious winner. Microsoft may hope to have a say with the upcoming Windows 8 but I doubt it will have a huge impact on the tablet market – too little too late.
Desktop (including laptop/netbook/Mac) Devices
The situation in the desktop market is very different. Macs are seen everywhere in the media as the epitome of cool – try and remember the last time you saw a Windows computer in a film, TV program, news channel or (non-Microsoft) advert. It just doesn’t happen – unless it is to poke fun at a blue screen of death
The famous Apple logo is product placed everywhere in primetime – so much so that Windows users might think they are almost alone in sticking with their ‘boring’ and ‘ugly’ old Windows box.
However, the facts simply don’t support this media generated impression. The overall desktop operating system share over the last 2 years is shown below (per NetMarketShare)
In the last two years Windows has barely moved from 93.4% to 92.5% market share whilst Mac OS has snailed up from 5.4% to 6.5%
There are of course national variations – Gartner estimate that Apple holds a more promising 12% of the PC market in the US. Gartner also note that the number of desktop computers sold is still increasing every year so Mac OS X is enjoying an increased share of an expanding market i.e. the actual numbers of Mac OS systems are growing faster than the bare percentages suggest.
However, an overall swing of 1% in 2 years is still not the stuff of which Apple dreams are made…
Why such a difference between Mac OS X and iOS Growth?
Partly it can be explained by the open goal that Microsoft presented to new entrants in the mobile and tablet markets – of which iOS took full advantage. Windows Phone has only belatedly morphed into an acceptable alternative (although apps are still thin on the ground and take up is very slow) whilst Microsoft missed out on the tablet market completely.
Whereas in the desktop world Microsoft is still very much king – its dominance in the business market helps keep Windows’ share up and consumers have years worth of time, learning, software and peripherals invested in the Windows platform.
It also helps that computers running Windows are so much cheaper than Mac alternatives (ignoring possible long term OS upgrades and maintenance costs) – Mac OS is always likely to remain a niche product on systems aimed very much at the higher end of the market.
Unlike Microsoft, Apple make money in the desktop market from selling hardware, not just an operating system – total market share is therefore of much less importance for Apple than it is for Microsoft as long as the numbers of units sold is growing.
It is therefore no surprise that Windows continues to dominate desktops but, although Mac OS growth may appear sluggish, its rise of 1% in total market share is a relative increase of 20% compared to two years ago.