Is Apple Stuck In Niche Market Irrelevance?

from the uh-oh,-here-come-the-mac-fans dept

What was everyone saying about me being anti-Apple around here? What would give you that idea? Here’s an article from Business 2.0 suggesting that Apple’s current strategy is doomed to keep them stuck in “niche-market irrelevance”. It includes two suggestions that might help Apple gain more marketshare. First, improve networking compatibility so that Apple machines can easily connect to Microsoft networks. Second, stop relying on the PowerPC chip. The first suggestion is to take away one barrier that many companies (and schools) face that make it difficult for them to purchase Macs. The second is because it seems unlikely that Motorola will be able to keep pace with Intel.

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Comments on “Is Apple Stuck In Niche Market Irrelevance?”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: Responding to the mac zealots...

Well, the Ferrari/Ford argument would make more sense if the difference between a PC and a Mac (and their prices and margins) were similar to that of a Ferrari and a Ford. Unfortunately, you’re talking about items that are much more similar and much more competitive… So, the point of the argument is really that Apple may not be able to survive if they don’t step out of their niche market.

As for the “best 5%” argument, if you want to be delusional, go ahead. The fact is, that’s it’s 5% of the market. How you come up with what the “best” 5% is, is up to you and makes no sense to me. In the end, if that “best” 5% can’t support Apple, then they’re going to go out of business… I honestly couldn’t care less if the 5% of people who bought Macs were the smartest, richest, coolest and most attractive people in the world. If they can’t support the company, then the company needs to do something.

However, I would like to thank Dale for his excellent response to the actual points in the article. That’s a valuable post.

lee says:

I agree, so what

I have to agree with the previous poster. So what if Apple is “currently” a niche? Apple may have only 5% of the market, but it is the top 5%

Hell, I have a hard copy subscription to Business 2.0 and it is a “niche” magazine. They will never be a main stream magazine until they focus on the lowest common denominator market.

Mac Hater and proud says:

Re: Re: I agree, so what

I honestly can’t stand Macs…actually its the loud Mac users that annoy me. I am a fine art/graphic design major and I use a MAc a school and a PC at home and I can tell anyone, Macs are NOT superior at graphics. For what you pay for a Mac you build (or have built) a PC that will blow the fans off the Mac.
Look at any head to head comparissons of a Mac to a PC and the ONLY places a Mac win are in free software and security. Whoopee-whoop. The only reason they are secure is because nobody bothers to attack them! And the only reason the software works is because the only thing Macs are compatible with is i* software. Try running anything with activeX or use a device that doesn’t give Apple a kickback and you’ll see how far their vaunted compatibility goes.

Macs are backwards, expensive PCs…great for 50 year old mom who don’t know how to keep from getting viruses but horrible for anyone who actually wants to use a computer.

Dale Gardner says:

A Sloppy Analysis

Had read the same piece this morning and came away quite disappointed with the quality of the reporting and analysis. I know Rob Enderle and generally find his work to be quite respectable, so can only assume that someone dropped Mr. Hellweg on his head at some crucial juncture in his development.

His basic point is well taken – Apple is at risk of focusing on design and style to the detriment of critical factors such as performance and functionality. But you’d never prove the point with the reporter’s shoddy analysis. Consider:

– Hellweg jumps on the comparison of Apple, with a loyal but small market share, and similarly situated automobile manufactures such as BMW. Margins for computers are smaller than for automobiles, making ‘niche-mining far more difficult.’ Might well be true – but Hellweg fails to note that – by virtue of its design differentiation – Apple is able to command higher margins than the beige box boys. Haven’t looked at the numbers, but I’d suspect the same is true for BMW, et. al, as compared with Ford or Chevy.

– He complains that, with the new iMacs, Apple has begun to encroach on its higher-end PowerMac market, a move that threatens to cannibalize that end of the market. Hellweg claims to have trolled the message boards to pick up the chatter about the new iMacs – it’s a shame he seems to have missed the speculation about a new and improved range of PowerMacs. He didn’t even need to hit the boards for that one – similar prognostications from financial analysts following the company have been widely published.

– This is getting long, so I won’t do details, but Hellweg’s assertions about Mac networking are wrong, all the way from the claim that Macs don’t network well to the absolutely moronic statement that Microsoft has helped with networking. You’ve gotta be kidding. (Plus, Windows servers have 96% of the market? Huh?? What market is that?)

– Finally, the suggestion that Apple should drop the PowerPC chip in favor of Intel’s x86 architecture. There’s a great opportunity here for some interesting debate – both technical and market oriented. Too bad Hellweg doesn’t offer any. Why is this a good idea? What will Apple gain? I guess we’ll never know – Hellweg never advances any data to support the assertion.

Bottom Line – sloppy reporting and analysis that seems more flame-bait than anything else.

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