Apple sells Macs in greater numbers each year than in any year ever. The Mac’s average selling price and gross margins are the envy of the industry. The latest version of OS X (no longer called Mac OS X) for the Mac is widely trumpeted as one of the best ever (and I agree). This is the Golden Age of the Mac– and it’s about to end.
All Rise To The ‘Personal’ PC
My latest Mac is a MacBook Pro with Retina display. Without any doubt I can rate this the best Mac I’ve ever owned (and I started using Macs back in the last century when they were not considered to be cool).
OS X Mountain Lion comes with a level of sophistication, polish, and data integration that exceeds even our wildest dreams from just a few years ago.
So how is it that this Golden Age of the Mac is coming to an end?
During Apple’s last quarter, the company shipped 4-million Macs. Not bad considering the average selling price of a Mac is substantially higher than a PC (and Windows PCs are not setting sales records these days), and the world’s economy is worse than sluggish.
During the same time period, though, Apple shipped 17-million iPads and 26-million iPhones. Totaled, those numbers are an order of magnitude greater than Mac sales. 43-million iOS units, vs. 4-million Macs.
What kind of picture does that paint? Despite record Mac sales, the more personal iPhone and iPad is outselling the Mac by more than a 10 to 1 margin.
As the Mac’s Golden Age comes to an end, the PC using masses are abandoning their desktop computers, ditching their luggable notebooks, and quickly embracing the future– handheld mobile devices, such as iPhone and iPad.
It is arguable that the Golden Age of the Mac has already ended. If so, so has the reign of the Windows PC as the computer of choice for the great unwashed masses of computer users. Via iOS, the iPhone and iPad have grown in capability and usefulness.
The PC and the Mac have been relegated to the dump heap of specialized apps which require CPU horsepower and screen size beyond that of today’s handheld devices. Using a Mac’s keyboard is still better than using the onscreen keyboard for iOS devices. The Mac’s screen real estate has visual advantages in certain apps. Computation extensive apps will require the mammoth CPU power in the Mac for years to come, but fewer of us will need to do that kind of work, hence less need for Macs or PCs.
At some point in the not to distant future, Mac sales will begin to wane, as more functionality and convenience is added to iPhone and iPads. Much of what we did in the past and still do on the Mac will be moved to iOS devices. Already, the Mac is taking a back seat to usage as many of us use both iPhone and iPad. Mac notebooks already resemble the dinosaur of the desktop.
The world’s economy may improve within a few years. That could give the Mac one last gasp at increased sales, but the writing is on the wall. The numbers don’t lie. The Golden Age of the Mac is coming to an end. Long live the Mac.