How Apple Won 91% of the Premium Computer Market

It’s 1979 all over again: The economy’s tanked, New York’s getting gritty, and Apple has a hammerlock on the high end of the personal computer business.

Suddenly everything about Microsoft’s sour-grapes Bargain Hunters ad campaign becomes clear: New figures show that Apple’s totally sewn up the one thousand-dollar plus PC market. Given Apple’s eye-popping 91% of the premium computer market, that’s not just sewn up but straitjacketed.


Even more impressive, this is an increase in market share. Last year, according to the data from research firm NPD, Apple merely had 88% of the market, and just 66% in the first quarter of last year.

Drilling down into how Apple has achieved such dominance, credit first belongs to Apple’s significantly revamped MacBook notebook machines. Their trademark brushed aluminum unibody coat, bumped-up specs–including twin graphics cards–and built-in batteries have helped the machines win largely positive reviews. In addition, sales have been boosted by Apple’s across-the-board price cut from earlier this year. The company’s iMac lineup is still iconic and can be seen gracing the desks in almost every TV drama you happen to flick on. It’s all so positive that Apple just reported 4% year-over-year growth in Mac sales in its most recent quarterly earnings.

Then there’s the rest of the PC market, which has been dominated for more than a year by the netbook phenomenon, a market Apple remains deeply committed to avoiding. Netbooks, by definition, are small, cheerful, and cheap. As they’ve sold millions of units, they’ve been pulling down other PC prices, and getting the public used to the idea that they don’t have to spend much on a Windows machine. Microsoft tried to leverage this state of affairs with its Bargain Hunter ad campaign, highlighting the cheapness of Windows PCs without mentioning the fact that you may get what you pay for.

That’s something Apple seems to know very well indeed, hence the 91% market share, leading us to wonder: Will Apple’s business planners now set their sights on the $500-$1,000 market and try to achieve similar success?


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