It was difficult for a while because for various reasons the Mac had not been accepted by a lot of people, who went with Windows. And we were just working really hard, and our market share wasn’t going up. It makes you wonder sometimes whether you’re wrong. Maybe our stuff isn’t better, although we thought it was. Or maybe people don’t care, which is even more depressing.
“It turns out with the iPod we kind of got out from that operating-system glass ceiling and it was great because [it showed that] Apple innovation, Apple engineering, Apple design did matter. The iPod captured 70% market share. I cannot tell you how important that was after so many years of laboring and seeing a 4% to 5% market share on the Mac. To see something like that happen with the iPod was a great shot in the arm for everybody.”
In most markets there’s going to be a lead player. In the desktop computer software market, there’s Microsoft, a massive and powerful company that is sadly in the position where it’s market share can only come down. Which must be pretty demotivating. Their efforts outside of this arena have been disappointing (Windows Mobile is really poor, XBOX is a loss leader) and have certainly contributed to the meme that in the modern world, Microsoft doesn’t matter as much.
A guidelines I go by is that you have to have a competitor. If you’re the only person in your market then you have to ask why. Maybe people dumber than you tried and failed in the market. Maybe smarter people came along and spotted the limitations and difficulties. Essentially, if there’s a niche with money and no-one is exploiting it, then there likely is a whole heap of information that you’re not seeing.
Seeing Apple’s Mac market share grow is a good experience for the Mac faithful. It’s very much an “I told you so” but it took 10 years to get to the point where it was growing and if there had been a mis-step along the way, it’s entirely possible there’d be no Apple today.
I actually don’t consider myself one of the “Mac faithful”.
I started late and I’ve had a lot of exposure to other operating systems and hardware so I feel I can be relatively objective about it. Sure, I’ve been running an Apple Authorised Service Provider for the last 5 years and it’s now a decade of NiMUG and I’ve been described as a Mac Daddy in the province (including a nice recommendation on LinkedIn from Mike) but I wouldn’t describe myself as Mac Faithful. I use the Mac because it does things the right way. I believe that if someone shows me a product that does it all better then I might switch. But at the moment, I’ve not seen anything that does it better where it matters. I don’t use Macs for my web hosting because there are solutions that do it better and I only interact with them via command line and web browser. For my day to day computing however, there is no other platform which is as fluid and as flexible.
In the mid-90s, things did look bleak for Apple. I even stopped recommending Macs to people when they asked me about which computer to buy. I didn’t want to recommend a computer that would be from a company that could fall over any minute. I didn’t have to wait long before going back on that, however, as every non-Mac recommendation I made came back to bite me. It didn’t matter who the vendor was, these machines were awful. One friend, Eamon, used to batter the side of his monitor when the computer was slow and shout such profanity at it that it made your toes curl. He bought a PC to write up his doctoral thesis but finished it on a Mac borrowed from yours truly.
These days I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy a vanilla PC. Not when you can buy a Mac and run either Mac OS X or Windows on it. That level of choice is important for some who are nervous about the transition. It’s heartening however, to see the experiences of the people who have switched to the Mac and taken it seriously, asking for help when they need it. It’s definitely a case of “Yeah, we were right all along”.