Numbers don't lie: Apple's ascent eviscerates Microsoft
How the mighty have fallen – and how swiftly
Comment Microsoft Windows once enjoyed a seemingly insurmountable dominance over operating systems offered by Apple, but new market share number-crunching shows Apple's inexorable rise blasting gaping holes in Redmond's once-impregnable battlements.
According to stat-happy analyst Horace Dediu, founder of Asymco, the ratio of shipments of Windows PCs to Macs peaked in 2004 at a hefty 56-to-1. Since then, that ratio has plummeted to about 19-to-1.
But that's only counting Windows versus Mac OS X. If you factor in iOS devices, the ratio drops to less than 2-to-1. If you're a Microsoft devotee or an Apple hater – or both – that's very, very bad news.
"Considering the near future," Dediu writes on the Asymco blog, "it's safe to expect a 'parity' of iOS+OS X vs. Windows within one or two years. The install base may remain larger for some time longer but the sales rate of alternatives will swamp it in due course."
Oh, how the mighty have fallen, and how fast the empire's decline.
2004 was a good year for Microsoft. Since then, not so much (source: Asymco)
As Dediu rightly points out, sales ratios are not only a measure of market share, but more importantly a measure of dominance: businesses, developers, and the ecosystem in general tend to gravitate around the dominant player in any market.
To paraphrase a truism coined in reference to Big Blue, no one ever got fired for buying Windows. Or, as Dediu puts it, "The stronger you are, the stronger you get."
So what happened in 2004? Dediu suggests that one factor might be the rise in portable computing and the strength of Apple's laptop offerings. That may very well be true, but Apple's PowerBook line was already a success, and had been strengthened three years earlier when the titanium-bodied, thoroughly modern PowerBook G4 was announced in January 2001.
More importantly, the years after the turn of the millennium saw an overall maturing of Apple's product line. After the PowerBook G4, for example, the Power Mac G5, released in June 2003, introduced an easily serviceable tower for grown-ups. In August 2004, the iMac G5 replaced the Hostess Sno Ball iMac (which had replaced its fruity predecessors two years before) with a more adult, consumer-assuring all-in-one.
But perhaps more important to Apple's rise and Microsoft's decline was the January 2004 introduction of a decidedly more childlike product, the iPod mini, which was the breakaway product in that line, and which went on to solidly secure Apple's growing presence in the consumer electronics market.
And make no mistake about it, Apple is to digital-content consumers what Microsoft is to business: the dominant player. And as the BYOD consumerization of IT continues to unfold, Apple's threat to Microsoft can only grow.
There's been a quite a bit of discussion – as well there should be – as to whether the consumer-friendlier, Metro-ized Windows 8 will give Redmond a much-needed boost. One question that hasn't been frequently asked, however, is "Why should it?"
With Android available for those manufacturers and users who prefer a more-open platform, and OS X and iOS available to those who prefer the security of a walled garden, what exactly is the crying consumer need that Windows 8 will satisfy better than Android, iOS, or OS X, other than its ability to run legacy apps?
There is, of course, the possibility that the Metro experience will delight some, but it's going to have to be mighty, mighty delightful to make a dent in a consumer market in which Apple and Google's Android partners have well-established fiefdoms, and which is tunneling its way into the enterprise one handset and one tablet at a time.
In 2004, Microsoft began its plummet from hegemony. It will be more than a little interesting to see how Ballmer & Co. are faring exactly one decade later.
Speaking of the slippage of Redmond's operating system dominance, Finnish prognosticator Dediu opines, "The consequences are dire for Microsoft."
We agree. ®
I don't recall anyone comparing Symbian devices with windows ..... and at 1million activations a day it won't be long before Android devices outnumber both iOS and Windows devices.
I don't think you understand what that word means. There isn't a business in the world that thinks *ONLY* selling 24x the number of units your next closest competitor sells is being "eviscerated".
And comparing IOS numbers to Windows numbers is ridiculous. There isn't a person in the world who does any *REAL* work that can get by with nothing but a phone or ipad. You might as well be comparing the number of Windows licenses sold to Logitech television remotes.
Re: "Lets face it, it is rather retro kernel design"
Monolithic kernels may be said to have passed the test of time ... at least if they're put together as well and as flexibly as Linux is. Point me at some other kernel architecture that works half as well. Yes, I'm aware of all the academic arguments in favour of microkernels. On paper, they are quite convincing, but I won't be convinced until I see one working well, across a range of workloads and system types, in the real world.
Personally I think Linux has a lot in common with Microkernels. Its software architecture is well modularised. New subsystems are easily integrated and existing ones re-engineered. it's just that the binding is done at kernel build time, not at runtime. It's a bit like the C++ versus script language argument. C++ is less easy to develop, but more efficient. A monolithic kernel is likewise less easy to develop for, but more efficient in production. A kernel is somewhere that efficiency DOES matter.
I have a big problem with neophiles. They think that "old" automatically means bad, without any actual comparison of the relative merits of the old and new products. They don't like "tried and tested and nearly unbreakable". They are also happy to disregard the vast amount of man-hours that are wasted, when a company like Microsoft replaces (say) the XP UI with the Windows 7 UI, and the Office 2003 UI with the Office 2007 UI. Sure, it may be only a couple of hours of lost productivity per user, but multiply that by maybe a billion users. Personally I think it's much higher. There's no accounting for the cost of the mistakes that are made while someone is thinking about the bloody new interface rather than the work he's trying to accomplish within it. Somewhere out there, I'm sure that the change to windows 7 has been the triggering event that destroyed marriages, killed companies, and caused deaths (by heart attack, probably). The right way to go is incremental improvement. Slip in th new features in a completely non-intrusive way, so that if you don't yet need the new stuff you never notice that it's arrived. That's what the Linux kernel has been doing very successfully for at least the last decade. (Unlike Gnome developers ... sorry!)
And almost as soon as we get used to Windows 7, Microsoft decides to Metro-ize us. That's a good neologism, by the way. To Metroize. To pull the rug out from underneath a billion users, in a misguided and doomed attempt to increase corporate revenue. To FUBAR by deliberation rather than by accident.
Re: US spelling
Why should we have to accommodate US English? They always translate ours. Anyone who has worked extensively and personally with Americans quickly finds out the semantics and meanings are often very different and, would you say that If it was written in French or Swiss German or Russian? After all, they accommodate English fairly well.
Respect for and pride in our own culture and language please, before we lose it altogether, or get your green card, pay their taxes and move there.
Microsoft will be trying to level the playing field with the Fantasy Surface, due for release on 30 February 2013.
Monsieur, Monsieur, the aeroplane is coming, the aeroplane is coming....................