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StatCounter data confirms Apple’s Mac renaissance

StatCounter’s latest US desktop OS market share data tells a story full of change, tangible evidence that proves the continued ascendancy of the Mac platform and a continued slow decline in Windows market share.

Depending on how you see it, it shows either a 14 percentage point or 5 percentage point decline in Windows share of the US desktop OS market between April 2022 and April 2023.  Where we are in the US today, Macs account for 31.34% of US desktop operating systems, while Windows has fallen to 53.43%. 

Reflecting this shift, it’s noteworthy that Safari now accounts for 22.3% share of desktop (not mobile, so not iPhone) browser use in the US — its highest ever share. Given that this data does not include iPhones or iPads, and that Safari is only available on Macs, this once again underlines the platform growth. Microsoft’s Edge browser currently holds 13.58% share and Chrome (which clearly also runs on many Macs), 55.28%.

This is no sudden event. This progress has been a long sustained story in which Macs have steadily achieved growth. Dig into StatCounter’s data and you’ll find that 10 years ago, in April 2013, just 12.86% of desktops used in the US were Macs, with Windows accounting for 85.6%. 

Since then, Apple has increased its US PC market share by a huge percentage, from 12.86% to 31.34%. This is a sustained pattern of change that goes back a decade. Look even more deeply and you can quite literally see spikes in Mac deployment in reaction to big platform events, such as the introduction of Apple Silicon machines in November-December 2020.

Apple Silicon spurs new high tides

What is also interesting is the extent to which the introduction of M-series Apple Silicon Macs has boosted this momentum. While you must put the data into the context of a declining PC market, it is clear that Apple is growing its overall share — even if Mac sales seem sluggish. The market may be tepid, but Apple is thriving in comparison to others.

There are headwinds, though. Supply, demand, and manufacturing challenges continue, even as economic misery hits consumer pockets.

For example, there are disappointing rumors that Apple will not move to 3nm M3 processors this year after all. To be fair, Apple never said it would make such a shift and seems to be still in the M2 series transition, so earlier speculation that it might introduce M3 machines may have been malicious or misplaced.

And even with the M2 inside, Apple’s Macs are giving high-end computers from other manufacturers a run for the money in terms of ease of use, longevity, and computational performance per watt; the Mac is winning the charm offensive.

Wells Fargo analyst Aaron Rakers put it this way in a client note last year: “When this productivity increase is scaled across a large enterprise/organization with hundreds of developers, the savings could justify upgrading entire fleets of Macs, perhaps sooner than dictated by the typical three-to-four-year upgrade cycle,” he wrote.

That inflection point continues with M2 chips, and even a purported delay in the M3 appearance is unlikely to stymie progress.

The latest market speculation is that TSMC is having trouble making enough processors for Apple to launch the Macs, meaning yield is being directed towards iPhones. Why the company is facing these challenges isn’t especially clear, but it’s not impossible that lack of access to the raw materials used by chip foundries as a result of the war in Ukraine may be affecting production. The supply of raw materials such as aluminium, nickel, palladium and vanadium has been an issue.

Apple isn’t alone in these challenges.

The entire consumer electronics industry is experiencing the same thing. But data from IDC, Gartner, Counterpoint, and Canalys all support StatCounter’s thesis that Mac sales remain strong in comparison to competitors. In Q4 2022, Windows PC sales fell 30% while Mac sales saw just a 2% decline, though Cook and industry data suggests the company is feeling some pain.

That said, during Apple’s last fiscal call, CEO Tim Cook pointed out that the install base of active Macs reached, “an all-time high” across all geographies. What that means once the crisis has abated is open to conjecture, but it does suggest that when (if) we ever return to better days, Apple’s Mac platform will be more prevalent than it has been for decades.

In the last three years, the Windows PC market has grown just 6% while Mac share grew 60%. And, of course, as the side impact of the current crisis seems to be growth in emerging economies, led by India and Vietnam, the momentum says Apple will be well placed to grow in those critical markets.

But growth isn’t what we’re seeing yet, and given recent claims that Mac sales in the current quarter declined dramatically, there will be a lot of interest in whatever Apple has to tell us about Mac sales performance in recent weeks when the company holds its FY23 Q2 results conference later today.

The question won’t so much be whether Apple’s Mac resurgence has hit the wall, but simply how much it has slowed. A multi-year pattern of growth doesn’t stop in one or two shaky quarters and with a pattern of growth now substantial enough to (figuratively) see it from space, Apple’s Mac renaissance continues. Jamf CEO Dean Hager has been outspoken in his prediction that Apple’s platforms will be the No. 1 ecosystem in the enterprise within the next few years.

The StatCounter data, showing as it does the growing dent Mac is making in the Windows market, tends to agree.

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Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

This story originally appeared on Computerworld

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