Apple could double market share on Microsoft defections

Consumers are so distrustful of Microsoft that Apple could double its market share due to defections from the Windows operating system, a report by market analysis firm Forrester Research says.

The remarks come in a report that looks at brand identity and the importance of a company's brand. The report also studies the effect a company's brand has on the pricing of its products and the demographics of those that purchase the products.

Over all, only Apple and Tivo saw their brand trust rise in the last two years, according to the report. The final tally saw Bose, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic and Sony earn the highest marks, while Microsoft, Gateway and LG ranked lowest.

The low scores for Microsoft could mean good news for Apple as consumers showed their distrust of the Redmond-based software-giant.

“Microsoft faces big consumer defection risk: One measure of consumers’ dissatisfaction with Microsoft is seen in the 5.4 million households that gave it a brand trust of 1 (distrust a lot) or 2 (distrust a bit),” the report said. “Compared with all Microsoft users, these at-risk users have higher income, are much more likely to be male and are bigger online spenders. These households know they run Microsoft software but would be just as happy to leave it behind — if they could. Apple could double its PC share by winning Microsoft’s at-risk customers.”

The demographic of Microsoft’s at-risk customers fits well with Apple’s user base, which Forrester describes as “affluent, optimistic about technology and brand aware.”

The study was also done before Apple gave users of its Intel-based Macs the ability to run Windows natively on their computers using a dual-boot configuration.

Forrester had a couple of findings in the report that may be worrisome. One finding is that Apple’s brand recognition fails to encompass the iPod.

“The Apple brand adoption data looks wrong — after all, the company has sold 42 million iPods, far more than the 5.2 million households that claim to use the Apple brand regularly — until you realize that ‘Apple Computer’ is not the same brand as ‘iPod,’ the Forrester report said.

Forrester says that Apple should link the iPod more strongly to the Apple brand in future advertising. This would also link potential customers to the higher margin computer products.

The second problem for Apple is the big differences between its regular users and its aspiring users. While Apple users may be affluent and optimistic, aspiring Apple customers have lower incomes and are more pessimistic about technology in general.

Apple has been trying to reach entry-level customers with products like the Mac mini, but the report says they need to continue to reach out to consumers.

“Those who plan to use Apple in the future have on average a third less income and bigger families,” said the report. “To reach these 7 million US households, Apple must continually remind them that its pricing is competitive and its products are accessible to everyone.”

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