Adobe data hints Apple has won the PC wars

And the mobile wars continue

Apple, Adobe, iOS, OS X, PC, Mac, desktop, mobile, Windows

“PCs are going to be trucks,” Apple’s legendary co-founder, Steve Jobs once famously said. What the world didn’t hear was what he might as well have muttered under his breath, “and Apple will make them”.

Hit the road

For sure Apple isn’t making every PC, but it seems to be making all the ones that matter, at least reading between the lines of the Adobe Digital Index team’s latest Apple Announcement Report.

The report includes data on Global Desktop OS Visits, and these can be construed to show that OS X users are more active online than Windows users. Now this could be a statistical anomaly as it is only evident in the first few weeks of the year, but given Apple’s continued growth in terms of its slice of overall PC sales, it seems credible.

So what can we make of this? Well, we know increasing numbers of people are choosing to get online with their mobile devices (Smartphones drive 76% of all mobile visits (iPhone 46%, Android 30%), tablets just 24% (iPad 18%, Android 5%), but we also know online access is critical to most modern applications.

This means it’s probably logical to surmise that any computers that are being sold that don’t go online are probably not being purchased by consumer or education markets, and are likely used for specific functions by government, administration and the enterprise.

However, even within that we recognize weakness in traditional PC markets in the enterprise space, and an increasing willingness on the part of enterprise purchasers to buy Macs.

Driving sales

However, reading through existing market statistics from the big players like IDC and Gartner doesn’t show us how the actual shape of the market is changing. Sure, we can tell Apple is more popular than before, but we can’t tell what those PCs that still account for the majority of PC sales are being used for.

Adobe’s figures suggest those PCs are not actually being used in any connected sense, so what are they being used for? Clearly whatever use is being made of them is relatively utilitarian, and the question technology buyers must be asking themselves as they look to the next PC replacement cycle will be if they can replace these machines with more affordable mobile devices. Or Macs.

The Apple Announcement Report leverages consumer data from Adobe Analytics, Adobe Social and Adobe Primetime, and shows a few other trends IT decision makers will be considering at this point in the evolution of computing, for example that iPhone users prefer the native Safari browser (43%), but that a surprising 33% prefer the increasingly popular Chrome browser. 

Connect dots

However, for Apple the most worrying observation might be a decline in “social sentiment for the Apple brand” in February.

“Across North America, EMEA, and APAC, consumer sentiment has been trending toward disappointment,” the report said. “Of the rumored products to be revealed, iPhone SE drives the most conversations on social.”

Apple has been here before of course. I’ve seen public opinion around the company wane before, usually in the lull before another big unveil. However, with most of the rumors coalescing around product enhancements rather than new product families, the question has to be what Apple actually has to “loop us in” about this coming Monday?

Driving seat

It is remotely possible Apple might take the opportunity to drive a new course to stimulate public interest by talking a little about the one mobile product it is reportedly working on that it is finding increasingly hard to hide. Doing so would show it has chosen to accelerate introduction of that product in order to grab the huge market opportunity it represents and benefit from an increasingly friendly legislative environment. In this paradigm, Apple’s computers could actually become trucks.

I’ll be covering Apple's news announcements Monday as they happen here at Computerworld. Do tune in.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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