There may not be a lot of agreement on whether or not Mac sales are up or down right now, but one thing’s for sure: the overall PC market is dying, with the latest quarter seeing the largest overall contraction in PC sales in the last two decades.
That’s not to say you can’t make a lot of profit still selling PCs, but as the chart above proves, profit is no longer linked to volume… and as they do in the smartphone and tablet markets, Apple owns the largest share of the profit to be had.
Analysing the sales troubles facing PC makers these days, Horace Dediu over at Asymco summarizes the problem nicely:
The real problem for the PC vendors is not that they have such low margins–they’ve had low margins for decades. It’s that the volumes which “made up for” low margins are disappearing. Apple is not immune to a gradual erosion of Mac volumes, but they have positioned themselves for growth with devices and content commerce and services. They have essentially “escaped” PCs and indeed caused the need to escape in the first place.
The problem is what could the others do? It seems all they can do is depend on Microsoft getting their strategy right.
Almost three decades after the debut of the original Macintosh and the Windows operating system, Apple’s strategy of integrating its software with its hardware is paying off. PC makers are making some of the best physical hardware they’ve ever produced, but Windows 8 and Windows RT are shaping up to be a profound misstep that has put the entire PC making industry, sans Apple, at risk. Outsourcing your software to someone else might be cheaper and easier for more companies, but it puts your business at risk when your partners fail. At least Apple has no one to blame but themselves.