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The facts about Mac sales and Mac potential.

By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999

  • Last month (Feb. '97) sales of Macs were up 68% over the previous month, bet you don't find that in the press.
  • The Mac OS clone market grew 348%, rising from 2.4% of the market in 1995 to 13.9% in 1996 - Dataquest
  • Apples Mac Sales were up 50% in Q4 '96 for Europe - Dataquest
  • Latin American sales of Macs were up 25% in '96 over the previous year - Dataquest
  • Mac OS-Based Computer Sales Grew 9 Percent During Q4 1996

According to Apples preliminary estimates, Mac OS licensees sold 120,000 computers (+/- 10,000) from October through December of 1996,bringing total quarterly Mac OS-based computer sales up to 1.043 million units. This represents a 9 percent increase in Mac OS-based computers sold over the previous quarter.

By looking at sales estimates from other manufacturers of Mac OS-based computers, you can easily see the positive impact that these compatible sales will have on installed base in the coming years:

  • Power Computing sold more than 100,000 units in its first year (better than Compaq did in its first year).
  • Motorola Computer Group shipped more than 40,000 StarMax Mac OS compatibles from its mid-November first-shipment through December 1996. According the Motorola, this number was way beyond expectations.
  • Umax sold nearly 100,000 U.S. of Mac OS units during its first six months of shipments. (Source: Umax/Edelman PR)
  • DayStar shipped a few thousand Mac OS compatibles into the quad-processor workstation market this year. A DayStar spokesperson said that for every SGI-equivalent Mac compatible system that they ship, Apple typically sells ten additional Mac OS support systems at a site.

All of this is good news for Apple developers, because it shows that the overall market for Mac OS products IS GROWING! And though the popular press paints a bleak picture of Apple's future, the platforms volumes are growing and the market share is holding steady.


International Data Corporation (IDC) currently estimates that Apples market share in 1996 was 6.6 percent, down only 0.2 percent over the previous year. To help put this in perspective, Guy Kawasaki reports, "Sony's market share for color TVs in 1995 was 7 percent according to Appliance Manufacturer (April 1996, p. 32); and Honda's is about 7 percent in the car business."

For IDC market share data, see the Yahoo site:

Mac OS Market share

  • 76 percent of color pre-press customers use Macs (source: Griffin DixResearch Associates).
  • 63 percent of all multimedia applications are written on a Mac (Dataquest).
  • 63 percent of the computers in U.S. schools (K through 12) come from Apple(QED).
  • 47 percent of commercial publishing customers, and 50 percent of scientific and engineering customers, use Macs (sources: Apple and others.)
  • 29 percent of full-time college students with computers have Macs--11 percent more than have the nearest competitor (Roper College Track).
  • 19 percent of PCs purchased by higher education institutions in 1994 were Macs (Computer Intelligence InfoCorp).
  • Apple is the #1 U.S. computer vendor in Japan (IDC and Dataquest).
  • Apple is the #1 computer company in Australian business, education, and consumer markets (IDC).
  • Apple is the #1 computer company in Canada (A. C. Nielsen).
  • The Macintosh is the #1 World Wide Web authoring machine, and 41 percent of Web graphics are created on the Mac (Mirai Consulting).
  • The Mac is the second most popular computer for World Wide Web servers; over 20 percent are Macs (Georgia Institute of Technology).
  • 25 percent of all Web browsing is done from a Macintosh (META Group).
  • Many many more positive factoids that I haven't posted.


People don't leave products that they are comfortable with, and have good support, great quality, and the highest computer satisfaction in the industry - unless there are very compelling reasons to do so. In the case of Macs, the users would have to "step down" (in features, functions, reliability) to other computers - not exactly compelling. So Apple seems at worst to have a guaranteed market of $10-$15 Billion dollars per year - with 10% growth per year - even if they don't convert a single PC user. This guaranteed market means business stability.

But security in the Macs current markets does not include the fast growing markets like Asia, Europe or South America - where Macs are getting even better market penetration and are growing even faster. Macs are better at universal language support, and better at desktop publishing, have speech and pen input capabilities - which are all critical to Asian markets. Apple could survive on the Asian growth potential alone. But they don't have to - they have the world.

Then there are new products and industries. Apple is going after set-top box (internet-T.V's) with Bandai and the Pippin. They have the most compelling hand-held computers on the market. Apple is encouraging cloning (which means licensing and OS revenues and many more Macs - which means more Software developers coming to Macs). Apple has compelling OS and Hardware improvements scheduled for the near future, and lastly the changes in the industry (towards internet, multi-media, etc.) is heading more into Apple's strengths - and likely to see better returns for Apple.

I wish I owned a company with as good of sales figures and as much growth potential as Apple.References:

Created: 02/11/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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