Mac users have long been criticized for drinking the proverbial Apple Kool-Aid, but as iOS and OS X market share continues climbing, and Microsoft continues hemorrhaging, now might be the time to ask whether you're drinking the Microsoft Kool-Aid. Here are three sure signs you need to step back, take a deep breath, and re-examine marketplace realities.
1. You think Windows 8 / 8.1 is a successful operating system
By most measures, Microsoft's Windows 8 platform is failing. From the start, the new OS was so plagued with issues that Microsoft developers worked feverishly to rush the release of a well-publicized 8.1 update. The free update aims to correct several infamous issues with the Windows 8 release, including adding a Start button, having the ability to boot to the desktop, and improving multitasking by enabling more app display customization.
Windows 8 proved to be so severe a debacle, though, that it's actually credited with depressing PC sales worldwide. According to IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell, "The Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market."
Unfortunately, Microsoft couldn't even get the update, designed to correct the OS' original shortcomings, right. Redmond pulled the Windows RT 8.1 update from its Windows Store in October, shortly after the update was released. Other Windows 8.1 issues are being reported, as well.
Apple, meanwhile, continues to enjoy significant sales for both its iOS and OS X platforms. The first weekend sales for its new iPhones set a record, with some 9 million units selling in just days. And in the past quarter, some 3.8 million Macs sold, only a minor dip from the comparable previous year's quarter when the new Mountain Lion release helped fuel sales.
2. You believe Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's reign was successful
Few industry flameouts have proven as spectacular as the fall that occurred under Steve Ballmer's watch. Never mind the fact that he killed the company's Courier tablet project shortly before Apple revolutionized the concept with its iPad. Never mind he presided over not just the Windows 8 fiasco but also the Windows Vista debacle. Forget that the Surface launch proved so troublesome that his company was forced to write off $900 million in inventory or that the Zune music player never climbed beyond single-digit market share.
The fact that Microsoft lost 60 percent of its market share under his watch should be all the proof you need. The CEO, ultimately, lost the battle to keep the software behemoth relevant. Investors will point out Microsoft's stock value fell more than 30 percent, too. Add in the failed $6.3 billion aQuantive Inc. acquisition and you should possess all the evidence required to understand that the Redmond entity is failing.
During the same time period, Apple's OS X market share grew new legs, the firm singlehandedly rejuvenated the tablet market, and iPod, iPhone, and iPad sales histories became legendary case studies taught at almost every business school. Not only did the iPod and iPhone change the way people use music devices and smartphones, Apple also changed the way people purchase, access, and consume media, communications, and content. Oh, and Apple became the single most valuable company and the world's number one brand, while remaining an organization celebrated worldwide for customer satisfaction. Even following Apple's 2013 stock slide, the firm's market capitalization ($462 billion) still towers over Microsoft's ($292 billion).
3. You think Microsoft still owns majority market share
Perhaps the most concerning fact for Microsoft supporters is the firm's stunning market share slide. The corporation's operating system share fell from a titanic high of 96% in 2000 to just 35% last year. Gartner recently predicted that Apple iOS/OS X share will soon surpass that of Windows.
When I first began touting Apple technologies as viable Windows alternatives in 2005, everyone was quick to call me crazy. However, the numbers suggest I wasn't. Windows has fallen to just 3% of the phone market. Apple, meanwhile, is selling hundreds of millions of iOS devices. Mac OS X continues fueling Mac sales. New iPhone and iPad launches remain significant events, over which even the non-technical media salivate.One of the most important facts is that Apple has changed the way people purchase, download, update, and maintain software, which is helping fuel continued growth. Earlier this year, the Cupertino company announced customers have downloaded more than 50 billion apps from its App Store. And while Apple has paid billions of dollars to iOS developers, PC sales continue to slide.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.