If the PC market is in decline, how’s Apple faring?

About those PC market reports from Gartner, IDC and Canalys that scurried past on Indigenous People’s Day, it’s hard to ignore the one winning face in the computer market.

Big differences in data, but one takeaway

It’s also hard to ignore the vast differences in the three companies’ data. While the overall insights remain in roughly the same place, IDC reported a 40.2% rise in Apple’s Q3 marketshare, Canalys saw a tiny 1.3% increase — and Gartner determined that Apple saw its share fall 15.6%. It seems two of the analysts have called this wrong.

While the broad inference within the claims remains the same, some of the numbers used were very different, which suggests that PC market share may always have been a somewhat uncertain barometric. This almost certainly reflects different predictive models and may also show the shared reality in which during a time of rapid — and at times, destructive — change, no one really knows what’s going on.

What all three analyst firms do share is a belief that PC shipments are continuing to decline, with Apple becoming the only bright spark in these increasingly dark skies. (Except at Gartner).

What the data claims

One the Windows side of things, the numbers are more in line mong the three firms: IDC sees Q3 PC shipments down 15%; Gartner sees them down 19.5%; and Canalys has them off by 18%. I detect a trend.

But Apple seems to be eluding their calculus. Even the estimated sales numbers seem too widely diverged, from 5.79 million to 10.06 million, depending on which firm’s calculator you use.

In part, this reflects Apple’s decision to keep its actual sales data close to its chest. But in part it also reflects the changing nature of Apple’s Mac business.

The truth seems to be that the Mac component of the company’s offer has improved dramatically with the switch to Apple Silicon at the same time Cupertino has made great headway in terms of enterprise sales.

Challenging assumptions

That’s a big challenge to analyst assumptions, who have for years seen the Mac only as a consumer device. This is no longer true.

Across the last few weeks, I’ve been speaking with people from within the Apple/enterprise space, and all suggest that interest in Macs among business users is growing rapidly. Jamf CEO Dean Hager pointed out that his company now manages 15% more Apple devices worldwide than it did 12 months ago. While that number includes iPhones and iPads, it does suggest that talk of decline may be over-exaggerated. This trend was also visible in Jamf earlier this year.

“Assuming Apple continues to innovate at the same pace, while remaining the product of choice for employees, I see adoption growing to a point where Apple becomes the dominant player globally,” said Kandji CEO Adam Pettit.

As employers seek to bring in and retain new talent, employee choice schemes are proliferating and as most regular readers already know, more than 50% of workers who get to choose select a Mac. The Mac has the highest PC customer satisfaction ratings, and it shows.

Given IDC was among the first analysts to note Apple’s rapid growth in the enterprise space as it became a flood last year, it’s plausible to imagine that analyst firm’s assumptions may be closer to the reality, but even if they are not, the motion of this ocean should be clear.

Apple is, at worst, holding steady while others experience rapid decline in market share.

Get ready for action

At best, one more solid push behind the Apple Silicon Mac innovation train could see the company turning the world upside down as it becomes one of the world’s top three PC manufacturers.

Speaking during Apple’s most recent fiscal call, Apple CFO Luca Maestri noted that the installed base of the Mac reached an all-time high in June with almost half of new Mac buyers being new to the Mac. “We continue to be excited about our long-term opportunity with Mac and redefining the PC experience with our relentless innovation,” he said.

With what we know of the company’s aggressive plans for M-series processor innovation and the looming move to 3nm and smaller chips, that excitement seems well placed. 

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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