2011: The Year of the Mac

Apple [AAPL] has so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: Mac sales are exploding; the iPad/iPhone/iPod halo is shining; The Beatles have reached iTunes; and in a few weeks time Apple will launch the world's biggest and most convenient consumer software retailer -- the Mac App Store.

Things are looking good.

That's even before you look at Apple's growing slice of the education market or consider the truckloads of AAPL products set to take shelter in this season's gift piles.

All these signs mean next year will be the year of the Mac.

Shiny, shiny 'iHalo'

I'm not whistling in the dark here. There's enough evidence around to support this. Add iPad sales to the mix and you know Apple is the world's biggest PC maker right now, and even Microsoft admits netbook sales are being decimated by iPad love.

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

Apple recently revealed its latest sales figures, and these confirmed that in the last three years it has nearly doubled quarterly Mac sales. These days, Apple sells almost as many Macs in some quarters as it once sold in a year.

That's more than a resurgence. That's a pattern.

A pattern once predicted to me by Needham & Co. analyst, Charles Wolf, who, years before the iPhone first coined the notion of the 'iPod halo' to suggest the iPod success story would translate into a Mac success story.

And the iPhone -- and now, the iPad, are generating even shinier halos and attracting even more Mac users. Apple's retail outlets see a pattern in which 50 percent of Mac purchasers are new to the platform.

In terms of a computer platform, the Mac is now the most enticing solution out there, at least for consumers who want machines that 'just work'.

(Don't get me wrong, I like Linux, too).

Leading the industry

Apple is shining. And that's what Wolf writes when he notes this week that Apple is growing at three times the rate of the overall global PC market.

This isn't to say the PC industry isn't seeing growth. It is. But Apple's Mac is growing faster than the overall market. That's why Apple climbed to number four the top five PC makers league in the US earlier this year. And that's why the climb's going to continue.

After all -- why shouldn't it? For years, Mac users have been playing with iLife -- an integrated suite of tools for media creation in images, music and video. Microsoft didn't deliver a credible answer to the consumer-focused solution until this year.

That's a lesson people don't forget, particularly after another day in which non-functioning Windows-based systems killed productivity across their place of work.

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