Apple’s great replacement cycle

The pandemic has accelerated existing trends, spurring adoption of hybrid working, cloud services, and the great replacement of PCs with Macs and iPads.

Apple, Mac, iPad, iOS, iPhone, enterprise

The pandemic has accelerated existing trends across the enterprise, spurring the adoption of remote work, hybrid workplaces, cloud services and the replacement of PCs in many companies with Macs and iPads.

Building new habits

WhileApple leaders appear to be struggling to adapt to goal-based, rather than presence-focused, management styles, its products aren’t struggling much at all. Not only is interest in the iPhone 13 looking even stronger than that for the record-setting iPhone 12, but Apple has consistently grabbed 20%+ of the US PC market, according to Canalys, even as the overall market grew.

The iPad (which Canalys includes within its market share data) has also become a viable machine for work, as noted by analyst Trang Pham: “Tablets are no longer just devices for entertainment, but have emerged as cheaper alternatives to PCs for remote working and  learning.”

“It is clear now that pandemic-related use cases will extend well into the future,” said Brian Lynch, Research Analyst at Canalys. “This points toward a significant refresh opportunity in the future — fantastic news for PC vendors and their channel and ecosystem partners. The commercial and education segments have exploded, triggering tremendous refresh potential."

These trends aren’t new, but the pandemic has accelerated them.

"Now that people have gotten a taste of working from home, they will want to continue doing it. We think that this will become part of the new normal,” Jamf CEO Dean Hager predicted in mid-2020.

That change in what people want from work, along with the recent resurgence of COVID-19, means many firms will now firm up existing plans to support hybrid working. This will also solidify existing purchasing patterns around mobility.

These are patterns that have quite clearly benefited Apple in recent months.

For many, getting a notebooks mean buying a Mac

When it comes to notebooks, Apple’s M1 processor has many people interested. It saw 24% growth in the notebook sector year-on-year, keeping it in the second place status it took for the first time in 2020.

This partially reflects the mass adoption of Apple devices across the enterprise, which is vigorously upgrading existing PC fleets to Macs.

The imminent introduction of fast new MacBook Pros will do nothing to douse interest in Macs. We’ve seen previous claims that 75% of enterprise workers will choose a Mac, while 97% of Mac users feel more productive when switching from Windows.

Apple has become explicit in its desire to reach enterprise markets. That’s why it recently commissioned a Forrester report into the Total Cost of Ownership of Macs in the enterprise and how this compares to PCs. That report found that, on average, an enterprise deploying Macs saves $843 across the lifetime of the product, in part through reduced tech support overheads and increased employee engagement.

As explored here, this mass adoption of Apple’s computing platforms in the workplace continues to accelerate activity among Apple-focused enterprise service providers. Most recently, Pax8 partnered with Addigy to offer Apple device management tools to managed service providers (MSPs).

“On average, 15% of the devices in a small–midsized business consist of Apple products,” said Jared Pangretic, Senior Vice President of Sales at Pax8 when the news was announced.

Keep taking the (Apple) tablets

While US tablet sales slowed over the last year, Canalys points out that the introduction of the new M1-powered iPad Pro helped Apple take 45% of the US tablet market. In Europe, recent research gave Apple 36% of Europe’s tablet market, up an impressive 73%.

While the analysis doesn’t say so explicitly, I think this also represents that in the current environment, people want to invest in devices that can be used effectively at work and at home.

It does remain to be seen whether Apple can generate additional interest in other iPad models when it launches more powerful machines in the next few weeks. The company also faces increasingly stiff competition from Chromebooks, sales of which inched HP above Apple's market share in the US.

Existing activity seems to suggest the company is in the right place at the right time to extract maximum opportunity from the pandemic-driven great replacement cycle. Apple will now see whether it can consolidate those gains in terms of customer satisfaction and future purchasing patterns.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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