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I f y o u r e s o s m a r t , w h y a i n t y o u r i c h ?

Why Macs Have 4% Market Share.

Mac users are often faced with this question : “If Macs are the best desktop computers [and they are, of course] why do they only have a measly 4% market share?” This ques- tion is usually asked of us by Microsoft Windows users who then volunteer their fa- vorite answer, as Chris Cobbs, technology columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, wrote:

“[Apple] chose to keep the Mac operating system only for Apple, rather than letting others license it, a decision that opened the way for Windows’ dominance of global computers.”*

Market share is determined by taking the total number of computers sold (usually by fi- nancial quarter) and dividing that into the number of computers sold by each manu- facturer. So, if 100 computers were sold and your company made 25 of them, your company has a 25% share of the computer market. Currently Apple’s Macintosh has about a 4% share of the market. Microsoft’s Windows operating system (from many dif- ferent manufacturers) has about a 94% share and exotic operating systems such a Linux account for another 2%.

Some famous early computers

Tandy TRS-80 model 2 Market share leader 1977-79 Extinct.

A simple and easy to understand answer that is completely wrong.

So far, desktop computer history breaks down into two eras: BBB and ABB.

The questioner’s reasoning goes like this: Apple invented the personal desktop computer and dominated that computer market with the Macintosh. Then IBM created the IBM PC and allowed other computer companies to copy it. Because many companies were making IBM PC clone systems, competition forced prices down which made the PC clones popular even though they weren’t as good as the Apple computers. Meanwhile, Apple tried to hold onto Mac OS exclusively and lost the race.

Such an explanation ignores several histori- cal facts. First, while Apple did invent the personal computer (Apple I) in 1976, the IBM PC dates from 1981; Macintosh did not appear until 1984. Apple never held top place in market share and by 1985, the mar- ket share race was already lost to IBM and the clones. By the way, IBM did not license the clones, they were invented by Compaq (now part of Hewlett Packard) and IBM sued to stop them, but failed.

*Video iPod -- is it the start of something big? Orlando Sentinel, October 29, 2005

BBB is Before Big Business. This was the time when desktop computing was domi- nated by many small manufacturers. These companies were creating a new industry. They were experimenting with different op- erating systems and hardware designs. This was the most exciting and vital part of per- sonal computer history. Then big business discovered personal computers.

ABB is After Big Business. When major cor- porations began to see desktop computers as useful, IBM, the manufacturer of that era’s most popular business computers (remem- ber huge, room filling computer systems that required air conditioning and techni- cians in white smocks?) took notice and came up with their personal computer the IBM PC. The IBM PC was inferior to most of the desktop computers already on the market and cost more. Even so, the IBM PC changed the personal computer world be- cause the major corporations, that would soon buy PCs in the tens of thousands, al- ready knew and trusted IBM. To them that trust was far more important than which desktop computer had the best technology.

Kaypro model 2 One of the first portable computers. Popular during the early 1980s. Extinct.

Commodore 64 Market share leader 1983-84. Extinct.

IBM PC Released in 1981

Special report Why Macs Have 4% Market Share ©2005 California Computer Care

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