Mac sales soar as PC industry staggers
By Stephen WITHERS
In the week that Hydrapinion returns to your screen, Apple announced yet another record quarter in terms of revenue and profit.
Mac sales weren't too shabby: up 26% year-on-year to 5.2 million. That's at a time when total PC shipments fell by 1.4% according to Gartner.
Still, that wasn't enough to get Apple into the Top Five vendors on a worldwide basis - it would have taken another million or so units to displace Asus.
But Apple's already in the Top Five for US unit sales. The assumption is sometimes made that customers in 'emerging markets' are too price sensitive to buy Macs. Seeing how well iPhones are selling in China, that might not be completely true. And if the 'halo effect' kicks in there, we could see even more Macs sold in the coming quarters.
That said, I'm still not especially confident about the Mac's long-term future. We've seen iOS extend from phones to tablets, and several of the changes in Lion seem to be aimed at the iOSification of (Mac) OS X.
Talking of Lion, the summer break was more eventful than I expected, and so I didn't have time to install Lion on my iMac. But I did make a concerted effort to get used to using the Magic Trackpad instead of a mouse.
It was going well in most respects, but I found it very difficult to drag with the trackpad, whether that was to select a portion of text or graphics, move a window, or adjust the playhead of a video track.
Then my colleague Garry Barker pointed out that the Trackpad system preference gives you the choice of setting a three-finger gesture to dragging. I'm not sure if the alternative (Swipe to Navigate) is the default, but that's how mine was set.
That small change made a huge difference to my Magic Trackpad experience. It might be obvious to MacBook users, but I'm not one of that clan. The moral of the story is simple: if something's not comfortable, see if you can adjust it.
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Apple's profits are high even though they are selling fewer units. Seems like good business sense to me
That certainly makes sense in terms of Apple's profitability, but leaves open the question of why Mac sales are up while overall PC sales are down.
Macs are far more common in universities (where I work) than in general, particularly in scientific and mathematical areas, at least partly because of the vast amount of specialised, but largely open-source, scientific software that is Unix-based.
I'm not even sure if I'd like that. iPads work nicely, but I'm not yet convinced that there's really enough similarity between the way we use tablets and desktops/notebooks.
For example, many (most?) experienced Mac users seem to regard as counterintuitive the way that removing an app from Launchpad actually deletes it. They (and I!) feel it should work like the Dock.
So the expectations of long-time Mac users (for some, that's now getting close to 30 years!) are being sacrificed for those of newcomers. I suppose it comes down to weight of numbers, but I understand those who feel betrayed by Apple.