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Year of the Mac

Entry 1159, on 2010-02-13 at 11:50:19 (Rating 1, Computers)

I recently read an opinion which discussed the possibility that 2010 would be the year of the Mac. By "the year of the Mac" the author meant that the Mac would break out of its position as a minority and isolated platform and become a serious option for both individuals and businesses (yes, I know it already is).

Of course I've heard it all before. There have been many years when various commentators have thought that the Mac would make that "big break" into the mainstream. But it hasn't happened yet and I don't think it will this year either. But that doesn't worry me even though I'm a real Mac fan. This is why...

The Mac has gradually increased its market share over the last few years. Sure its still a long way behind Windows PCs but does that really matter? Most Mac users want to use the best computer, not the most popular. There are two areas where popularity is important though. The first is to ensure a good supply of software and peripherals and the second is to ensure there is good support available.

Because Macs use the same connection technologies as PCs (USB, DVI, SATA, etc) the hardware isn't really a problem. Sometimes it can be harder to get drivers but that's an issue in a surprisingly small number of cases. And its rare to not be able to find software for a Mac, except in two instances: first, when there is a particular program (as opposed to a particular type of program) which is mandated for some reason; and second, when a very specialised program is required which might not have a Mac equivalent.

There is always the option to run Windows on a Mac do get this functionality of course, but I find that is rarely necessary although it is a good backup plan if all else fails. Its also a good way to convert PC users to the Mac: put Windows on there as well but you'll find fairly quickly that most users will stop using it.

Because there are far more PCs than Macs around, and being a Mac dealer is a far more exclusive arrangement, there are less sources of support for Macs than there are for PCs. But you will find some Mac support in most places and many of the support staff do tend to be quite enthusiastic about their role. Also, its generally accepted that Macs require less technical support than PCs.

I have also noticed recently that many computer technical staff use Macs, especially MacBook Pros (because they are not much more expensive than a PC of equivalent capability and tend to be much better quality). Sure, many of these people will have to run Windows but at least they have the right hardware. Next step: the right operating system and software!

Macs have received a boost through the famous "halo effect" caused by the popularity of Apple's other products, especially the iPod and iPhone. This will very likely continue as the iPad becomes popular (and I think it will) so I think Apple will continue to gradually gain a greater share, especially in the top end of the market (where it already dominates).

So 2010 might not be the year of the Mac in terms of a spectacular increase in the market share of the platform but it will be part of the "century of the Mac" as Apple's influence gradually increases, as it has done so far.

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