Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mobile Apple: The Limits to Growth (Part 3)

Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.
Vernor Vinge

It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.
Alvin Toffler

(here's Part 1 and Part 2 of this series)

Mac: A Recap
In the previous part of this series, I left with a chart of the Mac unit sales over the last few years, contrasting those units sold into the existing installed base as replacement Macs, and those representing new users adopting the Mac platform. I'll begin this post with a similar chart, this time spanning a few more years back, and smoothing out the quarterly data through the use of a trailing 4-quarters window to compute the values charted. Also, I've included a couple years worth of estimates into the future (period denoted in gray) after a reader's request. Check it out (click to enlarge).
It's clear from this chart that the slow 5-year life cycle of traditional PCs, combined with the practically unlimited potential for expansion into the billion-and-a-half units within the overall PC installed base, precludes us from modeling any significant slowdown in the rate of adoption for Macs within the next few years. Perhaps only after a significant slowdown in wider PC adoption (currently at over 100m new users per year), and when Mac adoption surpasses 50% share of those new-to-PCs users (currently around 11%), one might consider an inflection in the incremental adoption of Macs (explore the charts on the previous posts to contextualize these two opposing trends).