2014 is the year Apple marketshare catches up with Windows, says analyst - wait, what?

2014 is the year Apple catches up with Windows, says analyst

2014 will be the year that the sale of Apple devices reach parity with Windows. That's the word from well-respected industry analyst Horace Dediu, who published his thoughts recently along with some graphs on his site Asymco.

But the bigger story is how Apple’s mobile platform has nearly reached the sales volume of Windows. In 2013 there were only 1.18 more Windows PCs than Apple devices sold. Odds are that in 2014 they will be at parity.

Compare that to the historical high - in 2004, Microsoft sold 56 times more PCs than Apple did Macs. Apple had less than a 2 percent marketshare. Ten years later it's a very different story. Dediu expects that in 2014, Apple's combined unit sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs will be the same.

Comparing Macs to PCs, it's a different story. PCs still dramatically outsell Macs per unit, but Dediu is doing - pardon the pun - an apples to apples comparison of all Apple device sales (iOS and OS X combined) vs all Windows unit sales. PCs outsell Macs by a factor of 19 to 1, but when you factor in iOS, it's a very different story. That reduces the factor to 1.18 times in Windows' favor in 2013. It's been falling, which is what makes Dediu think that 2014 is the year that Apple and Microsoft finally meet on even marketshare terms.

The takeaway, of course, is a story we all know - that Apple has dominated in smartphone and tablet sales, while Microsoft has struggled for relevance in those areas. But it's something that no one could have dreamed - never mind accurately predicted - 10 years ago. Just as with QuarkXPress when InDesign hit the market, a combination of hubris and calcification made Microsoft badly fumble its dominant position. It's something that Apple and Google should both be mindful of, because the smartphone and tablet markets both require very long-term thinking. Things can change, just as they did before.

It'll be interesting to come back to this at the end of the year and see if Dediu's prediction holds true, or if this is finally the year that Windows Phone picks up some momentum.

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Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

2014 is the year Apple marketshare catches up with Windows, says analyst - wait, what?

13 Comments

Hmmm...I think it's odd to compare iPhone, iPad and Mac all against Windows PC and not include, I dunno Windows Phone, Tablets, Xbox, etc. I know Windows Phone market share, globally, is small and won't have a big effect, but might as well toss in a few million to be safe (Windows Phone outsells iPhone now in 24 markets).

The bigger story is that desktop is not dominant any longer for anyone, not just Microsoft. That's the changing landscape of computing in 2014 and it's certainly interesting, so I understand tossing in "other" products. But you might as well compare it all.

That's why I'm very interested to see what happens with Windows Phone (and tablets) in 2014. This market is so big, there's room for everyone. Especially in emerging markets, where it's anybody's game at this point.

With so many reports / rumors of Windows 9 "Threshold" coming out first half of 2015, 2014 might look like a transition year for MS. Look to 2015 for any major news regarding Windows Phone / Tablets.

We've been saying that about Microsoft for the past 10 years though. "Microsoft has this and that in the pipeline. It all comes together for them next year."

It's becoming like the "year of Linux"...

I think if you add in Xbox then you'd also have to include Apple TV (unless it's already included...didn't see it anywhere in the original article). I'd say it's pretty tough to decide which devices to include or exclude.

Absolutely. Computing in 2014 is very, very different from a decade ago. Look at smartwatches, a category that Apple is expected to enter (and Microsoft and Google). Those will presumably have to be counted too.

Computing is everywhere these days, so once you open that box to "other" it gets messy very fast--the very reason why Horace didn't include Android in his analysis (his own words), which would seem apropos for the discussion (heck, I have Android running on a wireless range extender)

Only devices that could be considered "main devices" should be included. Main devices can be identified as devices which can and are people's main access to the internet/documents/etc. To me, that means phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and hybrids should be used. Devices such as the Xbox serve an entire different purpose, though there is slight crossover when it comes to video.

Agreed. The definition of the computing devices should at least be limited to those which afford a similar range of functionality. The purchasing of phones and tablets can completely replace the purchasing of desktop and laptops for most consumers, watches and OS-driven appliances can not.

As previously mentioned I'm not sure comparing a company to a product is valid but it makes for interesting conversation.

The other piece to that story is how many of those non-Microsoft devices are used to access Microsoft productivity apps? Particularly in the world of business. For example we support a mixture of laptops (all Windows) and tablets (nearly all iPads) but ALL of them are used to access Microsoft apps like Exchange, Office, etc. As was stated earlier, how people compute is changing, and I believe that the end device is becoming the LEAST important in the technology stack. Make the end device ubiquitous and enable the BYOD movement and all that. Gives the illusion of choice which makes people happy.

Question: If an iPad is used to run MSOffice or a virtual Windows desktop is that really a lose for Microsoft?

Let's be clear here. This isn't a comparison of apples to apples. That would be comparing phones to phones and computers to computers.

What the article is doing is comparing apples to ORANGES. Plain and simple.

This aint no apples to apples comparison! Thats like comparing Toyota vs Suzuki/Ford/Chevy/Subaru for market share. Where did you go to school?! Here's the correct way to do the comparison. Stats obtained from Net Applications Market Share May 2014: Windows-90.87% OSX-7.38% Other1.75%

And this is certainly what I see in the real world regarding usage.

Now we compare iOS/android/RT (because its a completely different type of platform that serves a very limited function) Data from Strategy Analytics May 2014: iOS-28.4% Android-65.8% RT-5.8%.

Quite a different story when you do a correct comparison. And no.... there will be no tsunami upset of marketshare use in 2014. Sorry.