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July 17, 2008updated 19 Aug 2016 10:07am

Do Macs now rule the US desktop market?

Honestly, you’d think Apple has won the battle for the desktop, the way some news outlets have reported the most recent market share figures.“The Mac owns the US. Windows owns the world…” read Matt Asay’s headline over at News.com. The Mac owns the

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Honestly, you’d think Apple has won the battle for the desktop, the way some news outlets have reported the most recent market share figures.

“The Mac owns the US. Windows owns the world…” read Matt Asay’s headline over at News.com. The Mac owns the US? With market share in the US of 8.5%, behind Dell (31.9% market share) and HP (25.3%), that headline is misleading at best…[click continue reading for more on this story]…

Sure, Apple had a good quarter in the US, growing its desktop market share 38% in Q2 2008 according to Gartner. But to say it “owns” the US desktop market is, well, nonsense. It owns 8.5%, to be precise.

What is true, and where (the usually spot-on) Asay is absolutely right, is that Apple is seeing better desktop growth rates in the US than its Windows rivals. Apple grew market share in the US by 38.1%, while Windows saw a 4.2% growth rate in the US.

But as Asay also pointed out, globally Windows growth was up 16%, while Apple only managed 3.2% growth outside the US.

The top five for the US market find Apple on the third spot according to Gartner, with the complete top five as follows: Dell (31.9% market share), HP (25.3%), Apple (8.5%), Acer (8.1%), and Toshiba (5.5%). IDC, meanwhile, has said it’s not got Apple in its top three in the US even, though both analyst firms have said their figures are still preliminary.

In fact if you look at the worldwide figures, Apple is hardly on the chart: The top five worldwide PC sellers according to Gartner were as follows: HP (18.1% market share), Dell (15.6%), Acer (9.4%), Lenovo (7.8%) and Toshiba (4.4%).

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Having said all that, it’s inarguable that Apple is doing pretty well – thank you very much – in product lines far outside of the desktop, in the US and beyond. How well are Dell, HP, Toshiba et al doing in the MP3 player and smartphone markets?

Perhaps Asay’s closing remarks give some suggestion of why he led with the Apple good news, and perhaps over-egged it in their favour a little: “Good products continue to make headway… Does Apple reflect the US’ consumer-spending binge? I’d hate to think my beloved Mac is making its gains at the expense of sound fiscal conservativism. On the other hand, is Windows the new cheapskate strategy? Do people only buy it if they’re looking for something cheap and ‘good enough’?”

If people buy Windows because it is a “cheapskate strategy”, that makes 91.5% of the US market cheapskates, according to Gartner’s figures, and an even higher percentage if you look at worldwide figures. And more to the point, surely you couldn’t call a half-decent Windows PC “cheap”, especially compared to a Linux alternative?

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