10 Reasons Why Having Both Macs and PCs Spells Trouble for Apple

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-10-06 Print this article Print

News Analysis: The NPD Group has found that the vast majority of Mac users also use Windows PCs. And although that has proven to be a benefit for Apple in the past, it means that Apple has to keep innovating and improving the Mac platform or risk losing some of the gains it has made in recent years among long-time Windows PC users.

A recent study from the NPD Group has found that the vast majority of Mac owners currently have a mixed computing environment in their homes. The study found that 85 percent of respondents currently have both a Mac and a Windows PC running. That figure came with news that now more than 12 percent of American households have Macs.

On one hand, Apple's rise in the computing industry is a boon for the company. It has been able to increase its OS market share. It has enjoyed strong profits. And Microsoft has lost some of its dominance in the space because of it.

But that doesn't mean that it will stay that way forever. In just two short weeks, Microsoft will be releasing Windows 7. And all those Apple owners that also run Windows PCs will be taking notice. Although it is possible that they will ignore Windows 7's launch. I believe it's far more likely that they won't. They will find value in Windows 7. They will be more than willing to pick up a copy of the OS (if not buy a new PC).

Here's why:

1. Users know Windows

Although Windows XP and Windows Vista are markedly different from Windows 7, the very fact that Mac owners own a Windows PC helps them understand what to expect in Windows 7. At its core, Windows 7 is still Windows. Those Mac owners are familiar with that environment. And they won't be scared to switch.

2. Users know Mac OS X

Windows 7 is also quite similar to Mac OS X. It features a dock-like taskbar. It has several Apple-esque graphics. And thanks to some design tweaks, it behaves in a way that's similar to Mac OS X. Mac owners will feel at home on Windows 7.

3. They're willing to switch

By owning both a PC and a Mac, users are indicating that they're willing to use the operating system that provides the best experience. For years, that has been Mac OS X. But with the release of Windows 7, it's entirely possible that Microsoft's operating system will take the prize. And if those users have switched once before, why wouldn't they do it again?

4. Comparisons matter

Since most Mac users have both Mac OS X and Windows running, they know the differences between the operating systems. They know what they like and they don't like. By evaluating Windows 7 before they purchase, they can decide if they need something a little different (or perhaps, better) than Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

5. The hype is gone

I've found that those who don't own Apple products tend to hype the company's products more than those who do own them. They only see commercials and the cool features friends show them. They don't use the company's products on a daily basis to help them form a more informed opinion. Mac owners do. They know what's good and bad about Mac OS X. And if they believe Windows 7 can improve upon that, they will switch.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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