back to article Thought PCs were in the toilet? They're STILL eating Apple's lunch

Apple is losing ground to rival PC manufacturers as shipments plummet in the key US market, according to a report from IDC. The fruity firm's share of the US PC market slipped from 10.9 per cent last year to 10 per cent in the second quarter of 2014, while its year-on-year growth shrank by 1.7 per cent. These dismal figures …

  1. ThomH


    Apple did poorly against Lenovo because Lenovo did spectacularly. Nevertheless, Apple saw growth while the market as a whole declined?

    Of course, I wouldn't exactly have described the PC market as "Apple's lunch" in the first place. Compared to shipments of other types of device and of other suppliers I'd have called it maybe "that small snack somewhere around 4PM that Apple eats a very small piece of".

    1. David Webb

      Re: So...

      If you consider going from 10.9% to 10% growth, then yes, Apple grew.

      1. FartingHippo

        Re: So...

        To be fair, most people who can count to 20 without taking off their socks would consider it growth.

      2. ThomH

        Re: So... (@David Webb)

        The article claims that Apple's "year-on-year growth shrank by 1.7 per cent.". You can't turn a positive into a negative by shrinking by a percentage. You can negate it but you can't negative it. Therefore Apple continued to grow.

        It subsequently claims that "Worldwide PC [saw] a year-on-year decline of 1.7 per cent." which appears to state that the market as a whole declined.

        Given that Apple's relative share within the US declined, as you observe, and assuming El Reg has subedited properly, I guess what we have to conclude is:

        • Apple grew;

        • the US market grew more quickly;

        • the worldwide market declined.

        The real absurdity is that an article that should be about Lenovo's incredible growth seems to want to focus on a point here or there for the fourth-place supplier.

        1. David Webb

          Re: So... (@David Webb)

          No, they shrunk.

          Mac sales in ~2013 were 1.7m units, Mac sales in ~2014 were 1.6m units, a "growth" of -1.3%

          The research firm corroborated IDC's report by noting Apple as the only top-five PC maker to post negative growth year-over-year, dipping 1.3 percent from 2013.

          So my original statement is correct, Apple shrunk, the number of units shifted is down, whilst everyone else is up.

  2. Dick Pountain

    No mystery here, £500 is the new sweet spot, and both HP and Lenovo offer nice kit at that point.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      £500 quid AND running "Fallout, New Vegas"!

    2. big_D Silver badge

      And most people at work still need a PC and need to run SAP, Dynaics, JD Edwards etc. plus MS Office.

      That means that Windows is the obvious choice, the Mac is more expensive, and you still need to buy a Windows licence on top of that...

      New startups and media type businesses might be more flexible, but traditional business is stuck with what runs their business critical process software.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        And most people at work still need a PC and need to run SAP, Dynaics, JD Edwards etc. plus MS Office.

        "most people at work" need to run SAP, etc? Across all industries? Not in my experience. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the majority of business-owned PCs are not running SAP, or most of the other packages you listed. MS Office, yes, probably, because the damn thing is nearly unavoidable.

    3. Frankee Llonnygog

      Sweet indeed!

      Do they make any money from those sales?

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge


    How do Apple rank in terms of PC-based profits? I'm guessing that is a more useful measure if you are a shareholder.


      Re: Profits?

      > if you are a shareholder.

      Who cares about the 1%?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Profits?

      Indeed, if the comparison was by revenue, let alone profit, Apple would fare much better. Even seeing double digits is good for them considering they were down below 5% in the US at their bottom a decade ago.

      PCs are a small part of their overall profit anyway, the iPhone alone accounts for roughly half of Apple's profit.

    3. ThomH

      Re: Profits?

      Apple's profits are likely still the best or second best in the industry but this survey is about what consumers are buying, not about whether any particular company is about to have to shutter up. So it's useful to people like software companies. Even if Apple were more profitable than every other manufacturer added together, if they had only 0.1% market share then where would you focus your development resources?

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: whether any particular company is about to have to shutter up

        I'm willing to put a fiver on HP's PC and server biz being sold off within 3 years

    4. emmanuel goldstein

      Re: Profits?

      fair point. market share is not everything.

      i still think the herds are growing bored of apple's shiny offerings though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "herds are growing tired of Apple"

        Ah, the siren call of the Apple hater. They incorrectly believe that people buy Apple's stuff because of "marketing" or because of "shiny" of because of "sheeple" and think that they're soon going to wise up and realize Apple sucks and go with Microsoft/Linux/Android.

        These people have been wrong for years, and will continue to be wrong, because they haven't any clue whatsoever why Apple is successful. Anyone who believes that people who make a choice different than theirs are wrong is wrong themselves. There is not a "right" choice for what PC/laptop to buy or what smartphone/tablet to buy. Once the haters realize that they might quit their wishful thinking that Apple is going to crater in the near future because the sheeple are about to wake up and think like they do...

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Craigness

      Re: Profits?

      Haven't apple been cutting prices whilst others have been moving to expensive ultra books for the high end? It's direction rather than absolute numbers that shareholders care about and I'd guess the direction favours PC makers.

  4. lurker

    That's because

    Macs never really escaped from the desks of graphic designers or others chained to Adobe products, only the media wonks and Nathan Barleys of this world want to pay that much over the odds for what is now basically completely generic X86 PC hardware in a fancy box with a massive premium on the price.

    1. Mike Bell

      Re: That's because

      Yay, speak for everyone, lurker, why not.

      My wife has one (regular bod). My next-door-neighbour has one (football coach). I have one (loathe Adobe). My friend who owns a sandwich and kebab stall has one. My friend who is a vet has one.

      I also have a PC at work. Hate it.

      1. Irongut Silver badge

        Re: That's because

        Yeah its not just graphic designers that are stupid enough to pay over the odds for a disposable computer, football coaches do too!

        1. Volker Hett

          Re: That's because

          I wanted an Asus or a Sony but the Macbook Air was cheaper, so I got the Mac :)

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: That's because

          Sorry irongut, Mac's tend to live a longer life than PC's that get replaced every couple of years (maybe they go longer now since XP isn't an option for new models).

          If you think that only stupid people buy a Mac, the next time you see a program on NASA, check out what the prevalent brand of laptop is around the conference tables. Yep, they're predominately Mac's.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's because

        I don't know anyone who has an apple computer - does that balance?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's because

      Macs are nice enough kit (I have one at work) - but - the games I like to play are never available on Mac, the electronics design software and CAD in general (Altium Designer, Solidworks e.t.c.) we use does not exist on Mac. So we have complementary windows boxes too.

      I also think that Mac feels a lot like Linux - everything works with everything Mac'ish - but with slight inconsistencies that are OK to have for free software, not in a product priced at 4 digits. I think people love the design.

      1. jof62

        Re: That's because

        I have 5, but there again I don't play games, games are for children

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: That's because

        Altium and Solidworks both work ok under VMware Fusion on a Mac Pro, but if you are using them all of the time, a PC (win7) custom built for SW is the way to go. At my last job I had both a Mac and a PC for SW and Eagle. The PC was not allowed on the internet and stayed and clean the whole 3 years I was there. For all of my other work, I much preferred my Mac.

        I had SW on VMware on the Mac so I could grab stuff from Content Central. I was laughed at for being paranoid at first, but that faded as everybody else spent far more time than I did on bug hunts.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's because

        You are aware that you can run other OSes on your Mac aren't you? In fact, Linux has saved my ass in recovering the Mac on more than one occasion - got to love that flexibility :)

    3. AbelSoul

      Re: That's because

      only the media wonks and Nathan Barleys of this world want to pay that much over the odds

      I have used Logic for my hobby (recording music) for around 15 years. It only runs under OSX.

      A few years ago my old Macbook was starting to feel the strain so I Hackintoshed a Dell PC and managed to get Logic running on it. I was quite pleased with myself as it took me weeks to get it working properly.

      The set up worked reasonably well until about a month later when I stupidly accepted an automatic software update. This completely bolloxed the Mac side of the machine and after a few fruitless nights trying to get it back I spat the dummy, gave up and bought another Apple laptop.

      Not only did Logic run much more smoothly on Apple kit but I realised that what little I have left of life is too short to be wasting by either (a) spending months poncing about with a lot of frustrating Hackintosh kiech, or (b) the several years I'd have to invest learning another bit of audio software as well as I know Logic.

      So, I'll probably continue on my current path of renewing my Apple computer once every 3-4 years, financed in part by the healthy resale value of my existing kit - something I've never been able to say about any "generic X86 PC hardware" I've tried to sell.

      1. Craigness

        Re: That's because

        If specialist software locks you into expensive hardware that's unfortunate, but those of us free to choose can get like-for-like performance for less than the cost of the depreciation in an apple machine. Your "high resale value" blinds you to the false economy.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: That's because

      They're very popular in US academia, particularly in the humanities. I've avoided them myself, because I hate Apple's OSes (dealing with OS X via bash or ksh is bearable, but it's still inconvenient at best, since all the applications are GUI), but most of the academics I know have Macs.

  5. Fihart

    Lenovo, no thanks.

    I guess some of the IBM magic rubbed off on Lenovo, so I was unpleasantly surprised opening a four or five year old Lenovo desktop to see bulging capacitors like I've seen on "lesser" brand computers which were older.

    Astonished this problem has gone on for so long.

    Replaced the Lenovo with an Asus.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not at all surprising really. The initial rush of mobile devices is fading and people are coming to realize that they have to actually get some work done and a desktop computer is much better for that 90% of the time.

    Yes, the desktop computer market will shrink a bit. No, the desktop computer market won't vanish any time soon.

    1. fishman

      XP replacements

      <<<Not at all surprising really. The initial rush of mobile devices is fading and people are coming to realize that they have to actually get some work done and a desktop computer is much better for that 90% of the time.>>>

      Now that XP is EOLed, a good portion of new PC sales are for replacement of old XP kit.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: XP replacements

        Now that XP is EOLed, a good portion of new PC sales are for replacement of old XP kit.

        Very much my thought too. The trend for all computer vendors will be down, as the replacement cycle stretches from three years up to five, even eight years. Hardware doesn't wear out fast. Today's hardware is fast enough for most uses that people find for PCs, with huge amounts left in reserve for future software bloat.

        Everyone who wants a Mac has got a Mac. Same for PC. Probably same for tablets soon if not already. There's a bulge in the PC replacement market caused by the EOL of XP and consequential replacement of many PCs 5+ years old that can't run more modern Windows well. It's distorting the figures.

        In short, computer hardware is now a mature market.

        BTW If you run Linux desktops in your business / school / home, you can acquire adequate hardware for free right now (i.e. ex-XP systems). You might even get paid a few quid to take it away.

    2. Longtemps, je me suis couche de bonne heure

      Legacy Windows Desktop PC under threat

      At work we dock our Windows laptops into a docking station to get a decent mouse, keyboard and screen, and a power supply for the short-lived battery, on health and safety grounds.

      However, I could do the same with my smartphone instead, and throw away my laptop.

      In the short term I would use a Citrix session delivered to the attached screen to get the legacy Windows applications. In the longer term, I could run a full size browser to access the Cloud applications that will gradually replace them.

      Then I can carry my 4oz PC in my pocket and use it as a smartphone when away from my desk, but use it as my mouse, keyboard and screen "PC" when docked at my desk to run my desktop applications on a large screen.

      Most line of business apps will run happily through a browser today anyway, even though they are not yet Cloud-based. As as applications migrate to the Cloud, this will make the phone plus docking station plus browser the standard way to access all desktop applications that need mouse keyboard and screen. So the Windows desktop market does have a big threat hanging over it, and contrary to your rather old fashioned view, it may start a rapid decline within the next 36 months.

      Peak Windows PC sales were 2011 when they averaged 90 million a quarter.

      The quarterly PC sales mentioned in the article were 74 million, but 4 million of those were Apple Macs, and some were Chromebooks, so the Windows PC sales would be around 69 million.

      Quite a drop from 90 million I would say. And that is before the effect that I am talking about starts to kick in.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Legacy Windows Desktop PC under threat

        So will you do it?

  7. MJI Silver badge

    Where do self builds come in?

    This has always made me wonder

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Where do self builds come in?

      Not counted.

      Admittedly, that's a very small part of the market; probably well below 1% of the total. So, in a way, WE are the 1%. Yay us!

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Where do self builds come in?

        It would be interesting to know how many "boxed" motherboards Asus & C. ships... most of them will be self-built PCs.

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

          Re: Where do self builds come in?

          > It would be interesting to know how many "boxed" motherboards Asus & C. ships... most of them will be self-built PCs.

          Not that simple, because of stock and volume effects. As an extreme example I recently rebuilt a Tru64 AlphaServer, for the heck of it (I am a an admirer of "seriously sturdy computers"). Also I do regularly engage in MoBo-replacement to Magic-up family PCs. I'm really THAT easy ;-)

          Boxed MoBos sales won't tell you nuthin', because of the enthusiasts, the gamers, the geeks, and well, all deessa not meena much.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Where do self builds come in?

          There is something about nice quality aftermarket kit. I am building 2 PCs for my twins and using middle market stuff.

          Using ASUS motherboards, they do feel like a nice component.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Where do self builds come in?

        "So, in a way, WE are the 1%."

        Excellent news! When can I expect my first multi million dollar taxpayer funded bailout?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe because they're overpriced x86 tablet machines?

    Can't swap the disk, can't add any RAM. All for £999+

  9. adnim

    Nothing wrong with Macs

    at less than half the current retail price.

    As the previous poster mentioned, can't be upgraded, so they are obsolete in a few years. Even though they are well engineered and well built kit, nothing would entice me to buy one. (I do graphic design amongst other things)

    I am typing this on a machine that was once a 386SX (nothing of the original remains)

    Apple roflmfao.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing wrong with Macs

      I suppose, with windows or even the bulging Linux, it is necessary to be able to "upgrade" the machine just to keep it responsive. That was certainly true for my last Windows system and it seems to be true for my work laptop. As for the Redhat I have to support at work, that seems to require constant "upgrade" at every new release.

      My ancient OS X white laptop, on the other hand, seems not to lose any performance with upgrades. The only thing I have done is get a bigger disc because I was filling it with photos and documents. I then took advantage and got an SSD. Now, well, I have abandoned the idea of replacing it for the latest. The speed is b- brilliant and even thngs like Eclipse run well.

      So, if you get the right spec. in the first place, I think the average Apple system will be fine for its decent length life. That, I think, is good as I buy the thing to use, not to have to "iupgrade" just to keep up with inefficient software and bloated OS patches and upgrades.

      Plus, I am a real BSD bigot when it comes to my opinion of Linux.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Nothing wrong with Macs

        " Plus, I am a real BSD bigot when it comes to my opinion of Linux."

        Me too, but I'm not as wise as you - very sensible to post that sort of comment anonymously around these here parts!

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Nothing wrong with Macs

        That's only because Mac hw is always on the high-end side and thereby it has a longer life-span, it happens also with Windows (or Linux) machines if buy (or build) high-end ones. The one I built in 2005 happily run up to Windows 7 until last year - when it was turned into a NAS server - replaced by a new built one that easily outperforms any actual Mac and will do for a while.

        Of course if you buy hw in the lower-end side because it's cheap cheap and can barely run actual OSes and software, it won't be able to run anything new within three years - the Law of Software Inflation says "software expands to fill the available hardware" - developers often target systems on the higher end side, and while Apple hardware evolve slower (especially because if you want Apple there's no competition), Windows and Linux machines hw evolve much faster - especially because there's a lot of competition and some software, even consumer ones like games, push the envelope.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    x86 to be abandoned?

    Apple keep dumbing down their mac software.

    Abandoning current Mac software users hints that higher profit ARM Macs are likely on the way.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Apple market share

    Apple makes its money across the board from iPhone, iPOD and iPAD sales as well as on the desktop. I don't think there's any other company simultaneously selling in all those markets . That's a good place to be in financially - don't you think.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Apple market share

      Samsung is in all those markets, and even a few more....

  12. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    PC's down the swanee?

    "Thought PCs were in the toilet?"

    Shouldn't that be 'PC sales'?

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: PC's down the swanee?

      Hey c'mon! Shurely EVERYONE has at least ONE PC in the toilet.


      Just me then?

      I'll get me coat

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: PC's down the swanee?

        "Well, to prove I pissed in the toilet and not the garden, I took my oother half into the bathroom, showed her the toilet, and said: 'There's the pee, see?'"

        /gets coat too - see you at the taxi rank!

  13. Drape1941

    I am more interested in the future rather than reading about battle of egos pitched against each other. The last word is usually the least significant.

  14. Martin Pittaway

    Apple's lunchbox is a feast in comparison. Nothing being flushed away here.

    Where else you can buy a 2nd hand, 7 year old machine, for under £250, that will run the very latest version of the OS, and all the latest applications, without having to spend a fortune on any upgrades: that will also operate concurrently as a PC running WindowsXP or 7 or even 8!

    And you don't have to be a techy nerd to get it working either.

    eBay right now! iMac 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, 20" Screen, 500Gb HD, Dual Layer DVD Drive, 4Gb RAM, wireless keyboard and mouse in a single box with no spaghetti that still looks cool! eBay Buy now £250.00

    New versions of the Mac OS for FREE!

    Popular applications that are all compatible with their PC counterparts, FREE!

    Synchronisation with Non Apple devices, FREE!

    Word and Excel were on Mac long before PC!

    Why oh why do so many Windows users think Apple are the pits? Is it because in truth they regret their original decision?

    John Sculley (Mr Pepsi Cola) gave Microsoft written permission to copy the Mac GUI. If it wasn't for Mr Sculley there wouldn't be Windows.

    Does Lenovo, or HP, or DELL, or any other PC hardware manufacturer make a box that will run the competitors OS and Windows on the same box?

    SO you want cool longevity yet still need to run PC software. What's the problem?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple losing ground

    Rolls Royce lose ground to Ford year on year. Do they care?

    Rolls know that their product is class: built to last and will give many years of service.

    You want quality, you pay for it.

    We have 2 Apple Macs that were installed in 1997 as mail servers that are still operating to this day. We purchased quality and class and by golly we've no regrets on what they cost us.

    The Windows people told us we were mad. The Macs would fail and wouldn't last.

    The accountants wanted us to buy cheap!

    The accountants practice has since had many, many new Windows boxes each one more expensive than the previous.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feel the quality, not the quantity.

    We stook our necks out and went with Apple when all around were saying go with Windows. Our nearest competitor purchased a Windows 2003 server with licenses for 25 users. He openly admitted it nearly broke him.

    2013 he went looking for an upgrade and the costs quotation has caused him to close his business.

    We on the other hand have just purchased the latest MacPro with a Thunderbolt RAID for under £3K and the server software for 50 users? £13.99p in total.

    Thanks Apple.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chromebooks are PCs? Macs are not PCs?

    Just looking for a little clarification, really.

  18. DeathSquid

    I have a macbook air that I've run linux on for the past 2.5 years. Prior to that I was a regular purchaser of thinkpads becuase of their ruggedness, but around 2008 their quality dropped into the toilet. Lenovo support for faulty hardware proved to be non-existent.

    My macbook, on the other hand, has proved to be rock solid. Also Apple really stand behind their products (unlike Lenovo). If there is a problem, they will fix it quickly, cheerfully and at their expense if there is a shade of a chance that it is their fault.

    Consequently, I have bought macbooks for my whole family. A nice side effect is that I now no longer spend any time doing technical support. When my father had a windows box, I would lose days every time I visited him getting the accursed thing working properly again.

    I think the dip in Apple sales has more to do with their product release cycle than an underlying trend. A lot of people are waiting for the new broadwell based macbook air retina. In the meantime, their existing macs are working just fine thank you.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020