Tag Archives: Windows 7

Apple levitates: Financial quarter, by the numbers

Joe Wilcox goes through Apple’s numbers for the quarter thoroughly (and dispassionately – something that I appreciate when it comes to numbers).

What sticks out for me is that Apple has managed a pretty astounding feat: preserving unit sales (or expanding them in many product lines) while pushing margins even higher, something that should barely be possible when the world is in the grips of the worst recession since the 1930′s. There’s been a lot of focus on the bottom-line revenue numbers, but the truth is that given the changes in the way Apple accounts (driven by a revision to the rules by the Financial Standards Accounting Board) it’s hard to really see clearly how well Apple did on that score. The best estimate is “very well, but not as well as the figures look at a glance”.

That’s why my focus in looking at these figures would be on unit sales and margins, and in both cases Apple did well – outstandingly so, in the case of its margins.

Put together unit sales on iPod and iPhone – something that’s a valid idea, I think – and they moved from 27.1 million in the equivalent quarter last year to 29.7 million units this quarter. The mix of products is high-margin items (iPhones) up, lower margin items (iPods) down. More product, at higher margin, is pretty-much all you could ask from any company at the moment. I am absolutely certain that many tech companies that are being driven to slice margins more thinly in the recession will look at Apple’s figures with a massive sense of jealousy.

As for unit sales in Macs, they seem to be broadly in line with IDC numbers, certainly for the US. In the US, IDC had estimated unit sales increase of 31%, and Apple hit 30%. Those are very good figures, but it’s worth remembering that IDC also estimated that Toshiba had upped its sales by 78% and HP by 45% in the same period. And neither Toshiba nor HP concentrate on the “cheap junk” end of the market: while their margins won’t match Apple’s, this isn’t a case of people flocking to netbooks rather than expensive PCs.

(UPDATE: But see an excellent point below by Piot on worldwide market share.)

Given these figures, don’t be surprised if Apple actually loses market share in the US this quarter. How much value you apply to market share figures is up to you – personally, I think that as long as Apple is selling enough Macs to sustain itself and keep the third-parties interested, it doesn’t really matter. The days when its market share was sinking at a worrying rate are clearly over and I doubt they are coming back.

It’s worth remembering there were many predictions that Apple’s unit sales in Macs would actually slide during a recession, as customers looked to significantly cheaper PCs or (if they were dyed in the wool Mac users) deferred purchases. That simply hasn’t happened. Without detailed, qualitative data on customers’ purchasing choices (why they’re buying what they bought) it’s hard to say for sure, but my best guess is that while Windows 7 has slowed Apple’s growth compared to the rest of the PC market, it hasn’t drawn back any of those customers who switched from Windows to Mac over the past few years.

In other words, once you’re Mac you don’t go back. The net migration from Mac to Windows which characterised the 1990′s is over. Instead, the chief characteristic is now net migration from Windows to Mac – something that Windows 7 has slowed, but not halted.

(Image by Photo by Checiàp – http://flic.kr/p/5n9bi)

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Dumb Windows users write dumb things about malware. News at 11.

Over at PC Pro, my old chum Chris Brennan is conducting a brave experiment. As an ardent Mac user, in the cause of science, he’s put aside his Mac and is living with Windows 7 for a while (catch up with his posts here.)

After a couple of weeks, a story about some Windows 7 security issue prompted him to install Microsoft Security Essential (free, not bad security software). He posted about the experience, and has promptly been jumped on by a bunch of sneering Windows folk, with comments like “totally pointless article” and “He’s clearly a Mac fanboy. Any further articles are totally pointless. He’ll choose a Mac no matter what windows 7 does.”

Now read his post, and there’s nothing there that’s actually wrong – and unlike some Mac commentators, Chris’ writing is entirely reasonable. He’s not jumping up and down and lying about security, which I’ve seen some Mac zealots do. But it appears Chris’ (entirely factually accurate) post has hit a raw nerve with some of the commenters there.

No matter what the reasons, malware is a problem for Windows users in a way which it just isn’t for Mac users. Now I’m largely on the side of the epidemiological theory: Macs are less of a target because there’s less of them, and because there’s less of them it’s much more difficult to spread malware. Malware is a lot like disease: it takes a critical mass of vulnerable people in a population before a disease can spread effectively.

But what the commentors have ignored is the key point that Chris is making: anti-virus software isn’t (and never will be) 100% effective, and different packages protect to different degrees. While Security Essential is a decent package, as PC Pro’s review points out, there are some kinds of malware against which it will offer little protection.

The point is this: if you’re a naive computer user, you need to know not only to install malware protection on Windows, but that not all packages are equal, and how to differentiate between them. Unless you read computer magazines avidly, you might not know any of this.

And that, in my book, is another reason just to get a Mac if you’re not a geek. The Mac’s lack of significantmalware might not last if it ever gets to 20, 30 or 40% installed base – but until it does, take advantage of the lack of worry.

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Chrome OS is not a threat to Windows « GartenBlog

“Launching a new PC OS is not easy even if your target is a cloud. Targeting netbooks in 2010 isn’t the answer either. As I’ve pointed out, netbook are laptops with a pivotal axis of price. We’re seeing netbooks with 12″ screens, full sized keyboards and 300gb of storage. Does anyone think that netbooks aren’t going to evolve further? Consumers have overwhelmingly rejected Linux flavored netbooks for Windows capable machines that they could actually accomplish things on, such as run PC applications.” 

While I disagree about netbooks being only about the price, Michael is completely correct to point out that customers have generally rejected Linux-based netbooks in favour of Windows ones. Although I think there’s a lot of mileage in improving the Linux experience on netbooks (and Moblin/UNR are already ahead here), given the choice I would expect the majority of people to buy Windows.

Of course, the key question is whether they’ll continue to have that choice, given Microsoft’s transition to Windows 7. But given the date of Chrome OS’ release, which isn’t until some time next year, we’ll know the answer to that question before Chrome comes out.

Another thing to note: Chrome (the browser) has had almost no success in gaining market share. And a whole OS is a much more difficult sell to consumers than a browser. If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on Chrome OS getting more than single-digit market share any time soon.

Posted via web from Ian Betteridge’s lifestream

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Microsoft’s days numbered on netbooks? Not so fast

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Michael Hickens thinks that thinks that the emergence of Android as a viable operating system on netbooks means Microsoft is in trouble:

Microsoft got away with ignoring the Web as long as everything important was taking place on the desktop (most of which it owned), but the increasing ubiquity of cloud computing, abetted by faster and increasingly ubiquitous wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi, LTE, WiMax, 4G, etc.) is bringing that era to a close. Windows may be trying to catch up, but the truth is that people don’t love Microsoft. They love Apple, they love Google, and they love Nokia. People use Microsoft because they think they have to. Or rather, they used it because they thought they had to. Them days are over, Microsoft.”

It seems to me that it’s a big jump from “people don’t like Microsoft” to “people will use an operating system designed for mobile phones with minimal application support on netbooks”. I’m just not convinced that there’s any advantage to using Android rather than something like Moblin or Ubuntu Netbook Remix. The fact that you might even be able to use Android applications on Moblin makes the point even more moot.

What’s more, Windows 7 is a very different beast on netbooks than was either Vista or XP. It’s performance and reliability is better, for one – and the interface works nicely on a small screen.

UPDATE: And it seems that Acer isn’t all that sure about Android, either. The systems it will ship will be dual-boot, with Windows XP, because “consumer acceptance of the Android platform is unclear for the time being.”

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Windows 7, Mac OS X and Ubuntu: A Tale of Three Operating Systems

Joe Wilcox picks up on a comment that I made on his post about Windows 7 and its relationship to the Mac:

“As you know, Joe, I’m a Mac to Linux switcher (with over 20 years Mac use under my belt). But I’m also a tinkerer who’s curious about OS’s, so I’ve been running Windows 7 as my main system for a month or two. Count me amongst the impressed. Microsoft has actually applied some real serious effort to the user interface design, taken some of Apple’s ideas, and made them better. That it’s much, much faster than Vista is a bonus.

Mac fans should take a serious look at 7—not because it will persuade them to switch, but because it’s the first serious competition from Microsoft in quite some time.”

Joe’s timing is impeccable, as in a couple of weeks I’ll be switching my main computer back to Ubuntu from Windows 7. But the reason isn’t exasperation with Windows 7, and it’s not one that should give Mac fans hoping that the new Microsoft OS will be a failure any kind of comfort.

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A Windows 7 experiment

I’m taking a break from the world of Linux for a couple of weeks and giving Windows 7 a proper test drive. I installed it temporarily a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t play with it long enough to form a proper opinion.

So far – and I’m literally just a couple of hours in – my experience has been very positive. It’s snappier than Windows Vista, and the interface is cleaner and easier to get to grips with. The only application compatibility issue I’ve had is with OpenOffice.org, and I think that might be fixed in a patch I’m currently downloading.

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Why Microsoft lose and Apple wins, part two

There are some very interesting facts about the reaction of Microsoft to Spotlight after its first demo revealed in the comments to a post on Joe Wilcox’s AppleWatch blog.

"MSFT has worked on WinFS for more than a decade without success in
making it fast, reliable, and easy-to-use enough for release. The
Longhorn "reset" in 2004 was in large part the realization that WinFS
was still not ready for primetime.

At the June 2004 WWDC, Jobs blew away the MSFT engineers in
attendance by demonstrating lightning fast Spotlight searches on Tiger
(OSX 10.4). The court-released MSFT emails show how flabbergasted they
were, and the imperative of getting the Tiger preview DVDs back to
Redmond for reverse engineering. Comments by MSFT’s Jim Allchin and
Lenn Pryor were priceless.

Here’s Pryor:

" You will have to take Vic’s disk…I am not giving mine up. ;) Tonight I got on corpnet, hooked up Mail.app to my Exchange server
and then downloaded all of my mail into the local file store. I did
system wide queries against docs, contacts, apps, photos, music, and my
Microsoft email on a Mac. It was f*cking amazing. It is like I just got
a free pass to Longhorn land today."

Here’s Allchin:

"Yes. I know. It is hard to take. I don’t believe we will have search this fast."

And years later, Microsoft still does not have search this fast – and, from the looks of what Joe is saying, probably won’t have it for many years.

So why is Apple so good at this stuff, while Microsoft keeps churning out concepts – like it’s latest, "table top computing" – that it never implements properly?

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