statista recently released a chart which is creating quite a buzz among marketers. Despite dramatic year over year declines in Personal Computer sales, shipments for Apple Mac computers continue to rise. In fact, while total PC sales were down 8% in 2016, Apple’s Mac registered growth of 4%.
This left many to wonder what tangible reasons are driving this seemingly gravity-defying feat. It surely isn’t a price advantage as some comparisons place Apple’s offerings at up to a 20% premium versus similarly equipped PCs. It also isn’t the size of installed user base as Windows still dominates with just under 90% share (across consumer, business, and government users). And it isn’t an advantage on distribution channels as PCs are more than a rival when it comes to retail availability, both online and in physical stores.
Frankly, there is no tangible explanation but there is a strong intangible one! Apple has clearly separated itself from the PC pack in terms of brand preference. In fact, Apple holds a seven percentage point advantage over its nearest competitors, HP and Dell.
Personal Computer Brand Preferences – April to October, 2016
How important is it for these other brands to close this brand preference gap with Apple? If history is any indication it is very important to their actual survival. The below table is the earliest instance that we can find where brand preference was tracked over time. It is from 1984. At that time Apple and IBM were locked in a similar battle for the dominant role in the home computer market. But several other brands had a sizable presence; among them Commodore, Radio Shack, Atari, and Coleco. However, as shown by the ‘intenders’ column these other brands were losing preference month-to-month. Fast forward to today and except for some retro systems, these brands no longer even exist in the PC market!
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