Mac OS X market share accelerates in 2008

2008 was a good year for Apple and Mac OS X. According to data (via sharewarepromotions blog) Mac OS X’s share of the OS market increased from 7.31% in Dec 2007 to 9.63% in Dec 2008. That is a 32% increase in market share during 2008, compared to a 22% increase during 2007.


Windows market share fell from 91.79% to 88.68% in the same time. While Mac OS X’s annual gains are impressive, it has a long way to go to catch Windows. 15 years if you project the 2008 gains forward.

macosx_vs_windows_market_share_2007_2008Of course, it is highly questionable to project 15 years from a single year of data, but it gives an idea how much work Apple still has to do.

I sell table planning software for Windows and Mac OS X. Mac visitors to my website have followed the general trend, up from 7.41% in 2007 to 8.5% in 2008 and accounting for around of 10% of visitors at the end of 2008.

macosx_visitor_percentage% Mac visitors to

My data also shows that Mac users are twice as likely to purchase my software as Windows users (I have heard similar figures have reported by others). So Mac users currently account for 20% of my sales. I wouldn’t want to live off my Mac sales, but it is very useful additional income. Given the disparity in cost between Windows and Mac hardware it is hardly surprising that Mac users are more ready to reach for their credit card.

My software is built on top of the Qt cross-platform toolkit. The recent porting of Qt 4.5 to Cocoa gives me the opportunity to further improve PerfectTablePlan’s Mac look and feel and to release a 64 bit version. Hopefully this, coupled with increasing Mac market share, will further improve my Mac sales.

A beta of Windows 7 has just been released.  It will be interesting to see if it can repair some of the damage caused by Vista and slow the growth of Mac OS X. Personally, I doubt it – the Windows 7 feature list certainly doesn’t set my pulse racing.

24 thoughts on “Mac OS X market share accelerates in 2008

  1. Arnold

    How do you get 15 years? Are you assuming linear percentage-point growth? That seems like a poor growth prediction model. Windows didn’t pass Mac OS linearly, nor did Word / WordPerfect, Excel / 1-2-3, Netscape / Mosaic, or IE / Netscape.

    What usually occurs is more like a titration graph — ( Which means if the Mac does keep it up and surpass Windows, it’ll probably be a lot sooner than 15 years from now, but also a lot harder to predict exactly.

  2. Brit

    My data also shows that Mac users are twice as likely to purchase my software as Windows users (I have heard similar figures have reported by others) … Given the disparity in cost between Windows and Mac hardware it is hardly surprising that Mac users more ready to reach for their credit card.

    It might not have anything to do with price disparity. It might be that there is simply less competition on the Mac – because there is less software written for it.

  3. Andy Brice Post author

    >Are you assuming linear percentage-point growth?

    Yes. It seemed like the least bad guess. And, as I say in the post:

    “Of course, it is highly questionable to project 15 years from a single year of data”

    I was just trying to show that Apple still have a long to go, despite their recent gains. It wasn’t meant as a serious prediction.

  4. Eric

    The exciting part in all this for me personally is that for every mac sold, its one less person using IE6.

    My gut feeling about Mac users (I don’t have any data to back this up) is that they were not “raised” with the ability to quickly search newsgroups/usenet/irc/bit torrent for the latest cracked version of any piece of software they want so they are more likely to purchase. Also, because Macs are a luxury product that are more expensive, their users understand paying a premium for a higher quality product.

  5. Jeffrey

    Wait, I think you mean constant growth, not linear growth. Linear growth would mean that in 2009 they would grow 46%, in 2010 they would grow 68%, etc. Constant growth would be 32% each year.

  6. Andy Brice Post author

    Gaining an additional 32% of your current market share each year would be geometric growth.

    I meant that the Mac market share would grow by 2.32% of the total market each year (= 9.63% – 7.31%). The same growth as in 2008, hence linear.

    It was intended to illustrate a point (how far Mac has to go to overtake Windows), not predict actual future trends.

  7. Jeffrey

    You’re right, I gave an example of exponential growth. However, it’s still not true that the *growth* is linear by adding 2.32% each year to the market share. Your function is

    growth(year) = 2.32

    That’s a constant function. A linear function is,

    growth(year) = 1.01 * (year – 2007) + 1.31

    Your *market share* may be increasing linearly, but that means the *growth* is constant.

    Anyway, it was an anal point for me to bring up… my apologies. I appreciated the blog entry.

  8. DanH

    Every year I get the feeling that I’m at risk of losing a not insignificant number of sales due to my Windows only software. Hearing you say 20% really reinforces this feeling. But I’m still hesitant about jumping into Mac development after reading Brandon Staggs’ blog reporting his exploits in this department( If Microsoft were to release a version of the .NET Framework for the Mac I’d be there in a heartbeat.

  9. Andy Brice Post author


    Producing software that runs on Windows and Mac is not a trivial undertaking. The differences between Windows and MacOSX are many and sometimes subtle. A straight port from Windows to Mac won’t win you many friends on Mac OS X. I intend to write on this for the blog some time.

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  15. ayaw

    Mac OS X already can run on general non-apple computer with the EFI hack. We just need an usb-stick to boot Leopard DVD and install it.

    The limitation is only because Apple restrict it to be installed on non-Apple hardware. If Apple changed their terms, I think os x will win in short time.

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  19. cesar_spain

    Dear all:

    It is not possible MAC to pass Windows, since MAC sell HW+SW and very expensive prices. Do you think in Colombia, Brazil, India, China … are going to pay 1000 EUR for a PC ? I don’t thing so.

    Apple has a very specific market segment, Microsft is by far wider segment. In my opinion, the real thread for Microsft is Linux, a MAC’s brother(stability, security and developed based in long term principles, since unix). The amount of SW available in Open Source channels is just amazing. It is missing few important applications (MS Office, DirectX based apps, …) and it’s done. Many countries (such China, European public institutions, …) will embrace this platform (many already did).

    So, there is no comparison available between MAC and Windows, two complete different worlds, two complete different targets. MAC is innovation and creativity, Windows is massive, same SW for any PC. Comparison should be done between Linux/Windows.

    Since Linux is so similar to MAC, same applications can run easily in both platform, with little effort. The only propietary stuff in MAC is a) Cocoa Libs+Desktop b) PDF rendering from Adobe. The rest, open source and common to other Unix (specially BSD).

    So, let’s see how things evolve.

  20. artstarandrew

    Mac OSX can overtake Windows if Apple releases its software…which will never happen or is not likely to happen due to Apple’s insistence that there hardware and OS are made for one another and that PC hardware will not give “OSX-on-PC” users the desired quality of use. The brand is one of the best and most recognizable in the world. People think that iPod was just an innovation, no it was a selling tool because all those iPod-buying teens are going to one day go away to college and they are going to remember that little apple logo on the back of their iPod. And what kind of computer do you think they will gravitate towards? And those same teens aren’t buying for the OS so much as the whole package hardware and software; unified. Until Windows can do that they will lose some market share. But Windows will never lose totally to Apple if Apple doesn’t release their software.

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