Market research firm International Data Corp.'s (IDC) latest research numbers indicate a small increase in Apple's market share in the United States. For the current quarter (Q1, 2002) IDC shows Apple as the number six computer maker with a 3.48 percent market share. This is an increase of 0.4 points over Q4 2001 and a 0.25 point increase year over year. Worldwide, Apple is in ninth place with a 2.4 percent market share.
In comparison, computer maker Dell is in first place in U.S. market share with 26 percent and worldwide with 14.3 percent.
IDC analyst Roger Kay attributes Apple's increased market share to "the strength of the iMac they introduced in January."
Over the past couple of years, Apple has focused on the consumer markets in order to increase the company's market share. By introducing consumer level software products such as iTunes, iDVD, iPhoto and iMovie, Apple is bringing some of the most used and requested functionality to the market at a reasonable costs and sometimes free.
Apple's consumer level hardware products have also been revamped in the last six-months. In January the redesigned iMac was introduced at Macworld Expo with the iBook and eMac following close behind.
Kay sees Apple's growth opportunities in the future to be in the consumer market, not in business, enterprise or the company's "embattled education" market.
"Their biggest opportunity for growth is in the horizontal market, which is basically consumers," Kay told MacCentral. "The other big segment is content creation professionals and they [Apple] are pretty safe there. Those people pay a premium because they want the Mac hardware and software -- the whole universe of people that do work in that segment are Mac people."
While Apple is leading in the content creation market, it leaves little room to grow market share, because it is saturated with Macs already. Of course upgrades will help the company's bottom line when these individuals upgrade their systems.
Apple Stores and advertising
Surveys conducted by Apple show that approximately 40 percent of the people visiting Apple's retail locations are Windows users.
"We do a series of surveys every quarter in stores around the country talking to buyers and non-buyers," Allen Olivo, Apple's senior director for retail, told MacCentral. "About 40 percent of all buyers are new to the Macintosh, so we know we are getting a very good percentage of people that are coming over from the other platform and a large group of people that are new to computing in general. In addition, 99 percent of those surveyed have had a good experience at the store and would recommend it to a friend."
Apple is also expanding the functionality of its stores by offering "Made on a Mac" events, "Meet the Experts" and "Getting Started" sessions. All of these sessions are for Mac and curious Windows users and have been successful in all of the stores so far.
"Every Saturday morning we have between 400-600 people in the stores [nationwide] before they even open," said Olivo. "These are people that just bought a Mac or people thinking about buying a Mac."
Currently, Apple has 31 retail locations open in the United States -- a number that could grow to 50 by the end of this year. While Apple Stores are spread out across the country, some big cities still don't have a store. While steady sales from large urban stores could help Apple's bottom line, Olivo said that Apple isn't feeling any pressure to open locations in high volume areas.
"The executive team is very supportive and aligned with the strategy we have -- they let us go as fast or slow as the market allows us to," said Olivo. "If we see great markets and great property and we want to grab it, we will; if we're not ready to make the commitment, they are just as supportive."
Apple's newly launched "Switch" advertising campaign is seeing results already. Olivo said that people are coming into the store and saying they saw the ads and want to know how hard it would be to switch the files and applications over to a Mac.
Boot Camp at the Apple Store
Apple has a new program that was tested in five stores and will be available in all of their retail stores this month. Dubbed "Mac Pack" the program provides extra services for people that purchase a Macintosh system and the AppleCare protection plan.
When you buy the computer an Apple representative will install the AirPort card, memory, install and register any applications you have purchased, install and configure your peripherals and get your Internet account with Earthlink up and running. When you get home, you can just plug the system in and start working.
In what Olivo described as "Boot Camp" the Apple representative will boot your computer and take you through how to use all of the software found on the hard drive. This includes demonstrations on iPhoto and other digital hub software, as well as getting to know your hardware and how to use it.
If you are a Windows "switcher," the people at the Apple store will also move your files from the Windows box to your new Mac.
"There is always hesitation in moving to a new computer -- this is a good program," said Roger Kay. "I have always thought this should be a service from companies. Even if they have to go the extra mile in order to make the sale, each win is significant and it's one they will likely be able to keep."
Olivo feels people are realizing that switching to the Mac platform is not as hard as they think it is. More cross-platform applications have made the transition easier than it ever has before.
"Compatibility and the issues around switching just aren't as big as they used to be," said Olivo.
This story, "Apple market share rises slightly" was originally published by PCWorld.