Not just Windows: even Mac sales are down

Apple has released its third quarter financial results, and they are decent: year on year revenue is up fractionally, from $35.023 billion to $35,323 billion, though profit is down from $8.8 billion to $6.9 billion.

Compared to the third quarter in 2012 though, Mac sales are 7% down though, from 4.02 million units to 3.754 million units. Revenue from the Mac has declined by 1%.

In isolation this is not a dramatic change, but the statistic is more interesting when you put it in context with what is happening with Windows PCs. Windows 8 is nearly a year old, released to manufacturing on August 1 2012 and generally available from October 26 2012.

Windows 8 has received a mixed reception, with many users reluctant to adopt the reinvented operating system, which replaces the Start menu and adds a touch-friendly tablet platform alongside the desktop user interface. So far it has done nothing to stem declining PC sales and may have accelerated the process. Gartner reports a 10.9% decline in worldwide PC sales in the second quarter of 2013  (same as Apple’s third quarter). Gartner’s figures also include Macs, though Gartner estimates only a 4.3% unit decline.

The evidence is that gains in Mac sales at the expense of Windows, which is a long-standing trend, is continuing, insofar as Mac sales have declined by less than the PC market overall. However the figures confirm that the decline in PC sales is due to fundamental changes in personal computing, in favour of tablets and other mobile devices, rather than market response to an unpopular Windows edition.

The twist here is that Windows 8 is designed for exactly that trend; and while there is plenty of scope for argument about how Microsoft has addressed it, there is little doubt that it was right to come up with a version of Windows for tablets – and one that was not a reprise of its previous stylus-based efforts.

My own view is that Windows 8 is a plausible strategy and that Microsoft should stick with it. Earlier comments on Windows RT are relevant here.

Hybrid devices that twist between laptops and tablets are not the answer though. They are transitional machines which end up too heavy and expensive to be good tablets. Many users will buy a cheaper laptop instead.

The question for Microsoft now is how much tablet market will be left by the time the Windows app ecosystem matures to the point when a Windows tablet can really compete with an iPad for usability and utility in pure slate form.

Apple has problems too. iPad sales are down by 27% from the same quarter last year, though iPhone is up 15%. The reason, I suspect, is Android.

5 thoughts on “Not just Windows: even Mac sales are down”

  1. Tim, not always clear in this post if “sales” refers to units or to revenue.

    But to your larger question: whither MS tablet efforts? Google just announced 60 million tablet “activations” so far this calendar year. Leaving aside what an “activation” is, let’s add that to Apple’s 36.5 million iPads sold in Jan-July 2013. That gives almost 100m non-Windows tablets.

    How many Surfaces sold? I can only find one estimate, for Jan-Mar 2013, which indicates about 900,000 Surfaces shipped (Pro and RT combined). Let’s say similar number in Apr-Jun, for about 2m Surfaces this calendar year.

    That means Surface has about a 2% share of 2013 tablet sales.

  2. Is there any product in which Microsoft was fantastically successful in the first version?

    I treat Win 8.0 as version 1. Then 8.1 as the version 2 (better but still not there). But whatever that comes after 8.1 will be the ONE (Intel/ARM hardware would have caught up by then)

  3. Okay, looks like the reporter who blogged that 60m Android tablet activations so far this year had a little trouble interpreting Google’s slide. I assume the screenshot shown here is what he was looking at:

    Looks to me more like 25m Android tablets this year. That would put Surface market share in the 3-4% range.

    However, thinking about those Android “activations”, I’m reminded of the adage “If a tree falls in a forest…” Rephrased: “If an Android tablet is activated, but no one (but Google) knows about it, does it really make a sound?”

  4. @Phil sure the tablet share is tiny but it is a foot in the door; Microsoft now does have a tablet strategy, though it may continue to struggle, hard to say.

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