Apple? Uh uh. Dell? Maybe. HP. Could be. Lenovo? Acer? Asus? Google? No, and three more no’s. Microsoft seems to be the PC company that is thinking even more Think Different than Apple and it has begun to pay off in marketshare while the Mac’s sales continue to slide.
To put it bluntly, Microsoft found itself between a rock and a hard spot a few years ago. Cheap Chromebooks were eating Windows lunch at the low end of the spectrum while Apple’s Mac dominated revenue and profits at the high end.
What did Microsoft do? They went into the PC hardware business with the Surface line of notebooks. It was not instant success and the Windows maker had to write off nearly a billion dollars in losses. Since then, the only good news in traditional PCs has been in two areas. First, Windows 10 is a hit. Second, touchscreen notebook tablet hybrid PCs are a hit.
That’s where Microsoft has differentiated itself from Apple. Some Surface models are pitched as iPad Pro competitors. Other Surface PCs are aimed at the entry-level MacBook models. Still others compete well against MacBook Pros, and the Surface Studio gets acclaim from the creative folks who like to touch and feel the screen.
In the U.S., HP is #1 and growing thanks to improved hardware. Touchscreen notebook tablets are all the rage and major PC manufacturers have hopped on the bandwagon that Microsoft built. Dell is #2, Lenovo is #3 and growing fast. Guess who is losing? Apple is #4 is the U.S. but sales are falling while Microsoft’s Surface line now tops Acer, Asus, and others to come it at #5 (still some distance behind Apple, though).
Microsoft’s last new product event introduced a new Surface Laptop 2, Surface Pro 6, Surface Studio 2, all hot on the heels of the entry-level Surface Go which starts at $399. All are touchscreen hybrids. All are notable improvements on the original Surface models from six years ago.
Apple has the iMac line, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and iMac Pro and not one of them has the same feature set as Microsoft’s new Surface line with touchscreen. While Apple’s Mac languishes with old technology, Microsoft seems intent upon thinking different for a change; even if it’s just a little bit different.
Mac sales are down. Windows PC sales are up. Maybe Apple could take the hint and begin thinking different, too.