The Waxing of Apple While Windows Wanes
Sep 4, 2013 5:00 AM PT
Just who killed the PC, anyway? For if it's not dead yet, it surely will be in a few years -- at least according to IDC, which now projects that worldwide PC shipments will fall by 9.7 percent this year, representing the largest market contraction on record.
The market is expected to decline through 2014. Then, in 2015, IDC projects it will shift into single-digit modest growth, never to regain the peak volumes last seen in 2011.
The reasons are clear, starting with the fact that mobile devices have eroded much of the appeal of that old computing stalwart, the desktop PC -- and to be sure, IDC is pointing all 10 fingers at that development. Also, emerging market growth is not as exuberant as vendors -- namely, Microsoft -- might have hoped. That, coupled with the trend whereby businesses and consumers stretch out their computer equipment lifecycles as much as possible, pretty much has sounded the death knell for the PC.
There's also this, however: The growing popularity of the Mac in the corporate environment has played a role too in stifling PC growth.
Wooing Businesses at Retail
For the past several years, employees have been requesting Macs over PCs, and in growing numbers employers are deciding to accommodate these requests.
Apple has been perfectly happy to nudge this trend along, of course: A few years ago it introduced Boot Camp in Mac OS X Leopard for business users that wanted to run Windows on their Macs.
Now, according to a report in 9to5Mac, Apple is pushing its retail stores to sell Macs to businesses that run Windows environments. The stores, according to unnamed Apple retail employees, will be outfitted with 27-inch iMacs that run the Parallels virtualization software and Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system -- just in case there are some businesses out there that don't realize they can still run the Windows environment in a Mac ecosystem.
Is a Microsoft-Nokia a Threat to Apple?
If there is any proof needed that mobile is becoming the dominant computing form, it can be found in Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia. Indeed, the company all but said it would be pushing deeper into this format in order to better compete with Apple and Google.
Actually, it did say exactly that in a statement released when the deal was announced: "With the consumerization of IT user matter at both home and work... We cannot risk having Apple or Google foreclose app innovation, integration, distribution or economics."
The assumption by analysts is that Microsoft is now trying to forge a strategy similar to what Apple has built -- that is, a tightly knit ecosystem in which apps and hardware work hand in glove.
Can it work? There is no doubt that Nokia and Microsoft have immense tech creds that, when combined, will be a formidable player. Neither has the rep that Apple has, however, nor the mystique the company has built up over the years as a quality and fun mobile experience, not to mention a safe one.
Mind you, we are not saying that "mystique" is an absolute truism based totally in fact -- there are plenty of people willing to denounce Apple and all that it offers, to say nothing of Apple's security issues, which do exist. Still, Apple is riding high on its previous products, while Nokia and Microsoft's heydays are practically relegated to the status as history lesson for most Millennials.
Certainly it is clear that Apple's biggest competition is Samsung, not Microsoft -- and probably not Microsoft-Nokia. In most categories Samsung and Apple are nose-to-nose except for -- courtesy of the recent IDC figures -- the phablet category.
Samsung has one -- well, more than one; Apple doesn't.
As IDC reported, this is a very hot category, especially overseas. In the Asia-Pacific region, phablets swamped just about every category in the second quarter of 2013, with Samsung driving much of the growth. Not one to tinker with success, Samsung is reported to be releasing the Galaxy Note 3 in the coming days.
As for Apple, we know for sure that another iPhone is coming. Maybe even two! If Apple wants to put the kibosh on the theory that it is slow to innovate, phablets would be a good place to start.
The Invitation Has Arrived
It is official: Apple has sent out the media invites for its upcoming Sept. 10 event.
By this point the only surprise was the invite itself, which turned out to be a simple design decorated with several brightly colored balloons and one tag line: "This should brighten everyone's day."
As industry scuttlebutt has it, Apple will be debuting at least two iPhones, one of which is priced in the low range and will be offered up in a brightly colored plastic case. The other device is expected to be the iPhone 5S and -- depending on the rumor mill you are plugged into -- it will or will not come equipped with a fingerprint sensor.