Friday, October 15, 2010

Four and a half to five years ago…

I speculated that Apple's Boot Camp would (OK, could; I hedged) help Apple boost market share significantly. My rationale was that Mac hardware was suddenly potentially useful to Windows users, as part-time or even full-time Windows machines, and that even a small percentage of Windows users buying Mac hardware would represent a substantial increase in Apple's market share, even if it added only a couple of percentage points to Apple's roughly 4% market share.

Anecdotally, I've seen this happening. At my last two employers, Macs, usually laptops, have regularly been purchased with the intent of running Windows at least part of the time, even by IT types who profess to hate the Mac. Many of these Mac owners started using Mac OS, sometimes for the first time in years, others for the first time ever. I haven't done a comprehensive survey, but it's my informal observation that many are "switching" to Mac OS.

Quantitatively, my expectations have been wildly exceeded. This week, some reports put Apple's market share at over 10%, making it the third largest PC vendor in the US. Apple's share price is nearly 10 times what it was in June of 2005, its market cap puts it at the top of the S&P 500, and it has more cash in the bank than (almost?) any other company in the world.

To be sure, the Mac is not the only driver of this growth; the iPod, iPhone, and iPad are all game changers. But I assert that they are all inter-related; there has been much talk about the iPod (and later iPhone) "halo effect", but it all adds up to Apple's tight focus on their product line.

I see more upside. The iPad is in its first generation, and I expect it to follow the same kind of trajectory the iPhone did. The Mac (and OS X) are back on Apple's agenda next week, and I see a lot of potential there. Mac OS X is way ahead of its developers; mainstream applications that need to support OS X 10.4 (Tiger) are still unable to exploit much of the potential that Apple built into Leopard (10.5) and Snow Leopard (10.6). I have high hopes for OS X 10.7, although I don't have many predictions to offer. A new file system seems like a possibility: ZFS was rumored for Snow Leopard, and it wouldn't surprise me if Apple has something new here this time around.

And there must be something for the new datacenter in North Carolina to do...