Apple's Mac renaissance has truly begun

More than half of the Macs sold during Apple's biggest quarter for its computer went to people new to the platform. That speaks volumes.

Apple, Mac, iPad, enterprise

Despite so many macroeconomic challenges, Apple’s enterprise growth story continues — and the company last week announced another portent to suggest this direction will continue.

What's driving Apple's growth story?

The biggest trends driving this growth are fairly well known. They include the consumerization of IT, the move toward employee choice, Apple’s big success in consumer markets and the company’s deserved reputation for security, product reliability and overall lower running costs.

These strong momentum drivers are generating their own energy, and this now seems to be creating yet another strong force for Apple in the enterprise.

It means that across all Apple’s categories, the company is now experiencing notable increases in the number of customers picking up an Apple product for the first time.

Apple’s most recent fiscal call saw company execs make several announcements to this effect. Not only have iPhones attracted double-digit growth in the number of people switching from Android, but the Mac renaissance also seems to have begun.

Apple says more than half of Mac purchases were to first-time buyers, two-thirds of Apple Watch sales went to people who had never bought one before, and more than 50% of iPad sales went to customers who had never owned one of the tablets.

Where Mac goes, iPad will eventually follow

While iPad sales were arguably a weak spot in the story, the company is far from unique in that experience. IDC claims global tablet sales slipped 8.8% year on year. IDC also says Apple sold as many iPads in the third quarter of the year (which is Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter) as the next three largest tablet companies combined: Apple, it said, sold 14.5 million iPads in comparison to Samsung (7.1 million), Amazon (4.3 million) and Lenovo (2.7 million).

That IDC data is kind of corroborated by Strategy Analytics, which pegs Apple with 14.9 million iPad sales. Its data shows more iPads sold than all the tablets moved globally by the next four biggest vendors: Samsung (7.2 million), Amazon (3.7 million), Lenovo (2.7 million) and Huawei (1.3 million).

That half of all those Apple tablets are being sold to those who have never owned an iPad before strongly suggests the strength of Apple’s grip on tablet industry mindshare.

With Mac sales hitting the highest peak in company history, and Apple’s continued work to bring Macs and iPads together as perfect productivity companions, the unwritten future sees today’s new-to-the-Mac customers investing in an iPad to complement their PC replacement over the next couple of years.

Strong foundations 

This complementary wave of iPhone, Mac, iPad peaks are perfect opportunities for Apple management to build each successive wave atop the success of the other. Just as record iPhone sales helped build record Mac sales, those computer sales should help foster an increase in iPad acceptance in the next wave until the process once again repeats. All Apple needs to do is maintain customer satisfaction.

Today’s enterprise market reflects the consumer market. While Apple’s actual enterprise sales figures are hard to enumerate, most serious industry insiders I’ve spoken too in recent months seem inclined to believe that share will climb to above 50% before it begins to strike any significant barriers.

At least one CEO doesn’t seem to think there are many barriers to climbing even higher. Jamf CIO Linh Lam predicts Apple will be the No. 1 enterprise vendor by 2030. That seems increasingly probable.

While the present is challenging, things can and will change

Meanwhile, Apple continues to benefit as employee-choice schemes (mandatory as enterprise leaders attempt to recruit and retain experienced workers during the so-called Great Resignation) continue to favor Apple.

Counterpoint Technology puts it this way. “Overall, Apple’s strong grip over its user base continues to act as a growth engine, while its ‘walled garden’ approach builds further stickiness and brings in new users across its ecosystem. The current macro headwinds remain a temporary hurdle in the face of a longer-term growth supercycle as the company’s installed base continues to set new records.”

The trick is that Apple's installed base tends to extend its investment in that ecosystem over time — and every fresh wave is a future upgrade cycle.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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