back to article Mac demand helps Apple business bloom in Blighty

Apple was the only major computer maker to increase its shipments into the UK PC market during the final three months of 2011. Figures posted today by Gartner, a market watcher, noted shipment declines for the four remaining players in the UK top five. Apple's shipments rose 17.2 per cent from 228,000 units in Q4 2010 to 267, …


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  1. Mondo the Magnificent

    Something "different" perhaps?

    I've been a Mac user for two decades plus and own a few old Macs and some of the more recent stuff too.

    Quite often my Windows centric friends and colleagues ask me why I use a Mac, I tend not to geek out and tell them I've been in the UNIX environment for 30 years plus and prefer the CLI, the BSD file structure etc, so without coming across as a "fanboi" I just tend to tell people "they work for me"

    However I've encountered more people looking at Macs and MacBooks as an alternative to the Wintel PCs and laptops that they've invested in over the years.

    So, now I ask why.. and the biggest factor seems to be that "they don't give trouble and last a long time" Really?

    Well, I can vouch for the reliability because the applications are quite limited compared to the Pandora's Box of Windows offerings, although Macs are not exempt from hardware issues

    As for the longevity, well yea, I have some old Macs ('89 SE/30, iMac G2 & G4, Mac Pro G5) that still work quite happily

    I've seen more OSX compatible games and Microsoft Office 2011 for OSX is really good too. Add FireFox, Chrome, Skype and Apple's own FaceTime into the equation and it seems as if Apple's tin now offers everything that most home users need.

    Could the home user be choosing a new home computer like they'd choose a car? Something that costs a little more but is reliable and lasts?

    To be honest this growth in Mac sales also comes a surprise to me too...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reliability is a plus, sure

      but on the longevity side, aren't Apple users famously in a rush to upgrade to the latest shiny thing?

      1. jai

        not so much when it comes to the desktop and laptops. most OS X users i know will wait several years before upgrading to the new hardware. it's only the iOS devices that we queue up for every year :)

      2. Wyrdness

        Not really. I've got a Mac Mini g4 as a small home email server, which has been running 24/7 since around 2005. I'm wondering whether to replace it was a Raspberry Pi, which should draw even less power.

      3. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

        well maybe

        but we have aniPad and also have two G5 machines still doing most of the heavy workin the office...

      4. Sean Baggaley 1

        Yes.... and no.

        One of the less-known secrets of Macs is that they tend to hold their value very well.

        Because every Windows PC manufacturer insists on cranking out a dozen new models and variants every few weeks, their machines are often obsolete before they've even hit the retailer's shelves, let alone your home office, so PC owners simply aren't used to thinking in terms of trading up; the assumption is that their laptop isn't worth much, so it ends up being given to some (usually older) relative for free instead. Many long-time Mac users have never paid the full whack for a Mac after their first. They've sold their old models and simply paid the difference.

        This is, incidentally, one of the reasons why more people tend to opt for Apple's extended AppleCare warranty scheme than you might expect as it makes buyers more likely to buy the machine used if it's still quite new: it removes the element of risk that you'll end up with a dud. (Students buying on an educational discount even get that extended warranty thrown in as part of the discounted price, so it's often a no-brainer for them.)

        That said, Macs may cost more up-front, but will usually last for many years, so buying a refurb or secondhand model is not unusual. Yes, Apple will stop officially supporting older models after a while, but the machines will continue to run the likes of *BSD and Linux just fine. And OS X has supported shared computing features ("XGrid", since OS X 10.4), so older machines can still be useful in offloading rendering work in (say) Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro.

        Think of your computer as an investment. You're going to be spending an awful lot of time with it, so it makes sense to buy something that isn't going to have you wanting to hurl it out of the nearest window within a week.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        New shiny thing not required

        As long as you have a Mac with an Intel processor (basically ~2006 or newer) and at least 1GB RAM then you're fine and don't really need anything newer.

        I use a Mac and a (Windows) PC constantly all day. The PC hardware is better in theory, but it's always crunching and grinding and stuttering for seemingly no reason, plus it takes forever to come out of standby, "install" programs etc. I definitely want more current PC hardware to get things running smoother, but with the Mac things generally run smoothly and while an upgrade would be nice I don't feel the need for it.

      6. jonathan 11
        Paris Hilton

        Not reliability exactly...

        Strong secondary market is more of a pull I think. Since Apple's design language is very slow changing and they do produce a high quality product you can always sell a Mac on the second market for a reasonable price. If you upgrade you can count on recovering a significant fraction of your outlay on the last model. PCs on the other hand are essentially disposable (at least in the US judging by Craigslist).

        Re: the Apple user...I doubt Apple users are in more of a rush for shiny things than anyone else. The haters seem to fondly believe that Apple users are all rich morons wandering about bumping into things, vomiting money, and buying Apple product purely for status.

        From what I have seen the truth is somewhat the opposite as far as behavior. The PC geeks I know spend an inordinate amount of time comparing system specs, arguing over who's graphics card is faster, and upgrading cases to include glowing lights and fans.

        OTOH I use a mac because the obligatory productivity apps (MS Office) work really well, it is Unix and I like the CLI (especially for managing remote machines), and it is physically a nice design.

        I see the market as roughly divided into BMW (Apple) and GM (PC manufacturers) camps. They all work just fine but have different appeal around the margins.

        Paris, because I am a mac user...must be an idiot?

  2. Steve Ives

    Macs work for me too.

    Personally - and I know that for others, this may not be true, I feel that Macs give me better value for money. My early Intel MacBook Pro is still fast & reliable and I don't have to spend my precious home time (working abroad during the week, when it's used by my wife) to fix it at weekends (I program IBM mainframes in Assembler - the technical challange of fixing PCs/Macs is trivial). I've spent in excess of 15 hours over the last few months fixing friends' Windows machines. (addressing slowdowns and HDD upgrades).

    Yes, it was expensive, but £1700 for a no-maintenance laptop that is still running fast after 5 years is good value. Hopefully my 18 month old coreI7 macBook Pro will be as good.

    I have more and more friends asking me about Macs and I generally recommend them with the caveat of the high initial cost (although lower TCO perhaps) and if they have any essential PC software (AutoCAD, for one friend) then the Boot Camp/ Parallels situation.

    I also think that creating home movies, photo books and calenders etc is easier and much more fun with iLife but again, YMMV.


  3. RichyS

    Sounds about right

    From a non representative sample of people I know and other companies I do business with, everyone has a personal MacBook Pro and a Thinkpad at work.

    Not seen a new Dell or HP in ages.

  4. aahjnnot

    Beauty matters

    Looking at my friends, the home desktop market is dead for most households. The elderly PC in the study is sufficient, and probably won't be replaced when it dies. People prefer to use laptops, tablets and phones for their ever-increasing computer fix: we spend so much time online that sitting in front of a desk just isn't comfortable enough.

    In the laptop market, the simple fact is that Apple laptops offer a much better user experience than most WIndows equivalents. They're light, beautiful, start up in seconds instead of minutes, sleep for weeks instead of hours. They don't need infuriating security software and don't grind to a halt after 6 months. They're real objects of desire.

    True, they don't run Windows software. But no-one uses that stuff any more. People play games on their consoles or smartphones, and everything else happens online. For the home user, Apple's bundled software (eg media playback, photo management, video editing, music creation) far surpasses the bundled Windows equivalents.

    An Apple laptop feels like an upgrade. Until HP, Dell, Acer, Toshiba,etc can change that perception, they're on a downward spiral.

  5. Paul Naylor
    Thumb Up

    And me

    I've been a Mac user since 1990, having gone through an SE, and LC475, G3, G4 and now Mac Pro and MacBook Pro. I've always found that though Macs are inherently expensive, their shelf life is much longer and they keep their value well. My current rev1 Mac Pro is now edging into 'over the hill' territory when I discovered last week that the original X1900 graphics card won't run Portal 2 (any recommendations for a new card that is compatible with this model?) and the original SuperDrive is becoming very flaky. Still, throwing more memory at it and plugging in bigger disks (2x 2Tb, 1x1Tb, 1x500Gb Western Digitals) continues to keep this a relevant machine for me, even if I would like a new 12-core behemoth.

    In that time, friends and colleagues have gone through various incarnations of cheaper machines - laptops and desktops - and upgraded at least a couple of times due to hardware failures and Windows support.

    Similarly, I have managed to turn other people on to Macs over the years and their satisfaction levels have remained consistently high.

    Yes, Apple kit is expensive. Yes, you can get similar specs for less cash but overall Macs last longer, hold their value and generally support the latest OSs and applications. Running VMWare on my Mac Pro also means that I can run work stuff if I need to.

    My only regret, being an Apple user, is that I didn't buy APPL stock in the 90s...

    1. Evil Graham
      Thumb Up

      In the same boat

      I also have a Mac Pro, from mid 2005. I bought it from the refurb store for £1200 and it has served our family of 4 for the last 6+ years without ever missing a beat.

      It was expensive compared to a desktop PC, but I would have probably gone through 2 or 3 PCs in that time. Also, the Mac is a joy to use, unlike the Windows thing I am shackled to at work.

      It still looks as nice as the day I unboxed it and sadly the only reason I will change it is because of the ever-increasing list of software that I can't run any more (PowerPC support is drying up). Shame really.

    2. Dick Head

      My experience is similar...

      When I recently decided I wanted a PC on my desk instead of on my lap I bought a friend's old MacPro, with twin Xeon from 2006. Why would anyone who wasn't broke buy a 6 year-old desktop?

      Well, it's possible that it will crap out next week and make me look even stupider than usual, but in that case I don't have a great deal of money invested in it. In the meantime, I installed an SSD drive which was left over when my Dell Latitude crapped out (yeah, one of those expensive, solid, reliable business-oriented laptops) as the boot drive and it's a very capable machine which boots as fast as my MacBook Pro which also has SSD.

      It also helps heat up my office (-15 deg C outside this morning).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nice hardware

    A major UK fashion retailer I know runs Apple desktops and laptops, but wipes OSX off them and puts on Windows instead. I've seen a few other places doing the same. The stuff looks nice but OSX just doesn't work well in a lot of businesses - especially as many are looking at virtualizing desktops and the 'can only run OSX on Apple hardware' rule pretty much eliminates OSX as a choice.

    I've seen plenty of people at airports etc. with Macbooks running Windows. Either they've done the same, or they're running Bootcamp or similar.

    Whatever, these Macs might be eating up rival hardware manufacturers, but they're not eating into Windows sales in any meaningful way and those companies and users are still firmly in the Windows fold.

    Sony needs to get their Vaio line sorted - reduce the number of models and start building thin, solid, original products with bold designs, and they'd be back to the place they were a few years back. But I fear they're just going to follow Apple with the ghastly 'Ultrabook' me-too label and washed out aluminium look. I want a Vaio with a lime green or bright orange lid, not a poor-man's Macbook.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    One way or another I've ended up using a mac work for nearly twenty years, even when I was a sys admin (SGI boxes). I've also handed on my old macs, when I've upgraded. Some of which are still going strong. I have a couple of old ones at home running fine. The only failure I had was on a Black Mac Book when it's HD died. An hour and a half later i was back up and running.

    From a consumer point of view, the bundled software is a winner as well.

    Why they're so good in longevity terms, when they're made in the same factories as windows machines, is beyond me.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No, no, no, people ask for that familiar interface and

    wealth of applications, they all want to run Photoshop and play awesome games and...

    Oh, what's that you say ? Not anymore ?

  9. Inspector71
    Thumb Up

    Inevitable Crap Car Analogy

    Like some of the above posters, I have been drinking the Kool Aid for a long time now ( since the Mac Plus ) so my judgement is undoubtedly skewed but all I can say is they just work for me. It used to be said by some that Macs were like the BMWs or Mercs of the computer world ( with the prices to match!) but now especially since the switch to Intel I would say they are more like Volkswagens now, a bit more mass market. Yes, they still tend to be more expensive (in some cases a lot!) but they are understated, well designed, reliable, build quality tends to be high, they hold their value very well over time and they "just work".

    As for PCs I could buy something that is "like a Golf" as the current VW ads go but personally I just would like a Golf. As always YMMV.

  10. Van

    Macs may hold their value, and as their fans regularly point out, PCs of similar or slightly higher spec are almost given away for free, but this begs the question, why not take a PC off someones hands for free than fork out £500 for a used Mac?

    Trust me, the increase in Mac sales will coincide with the amount of people who don't know what is good about a Mac. Fashion victims. You've always been able to buy better quality MP3 players than an ipode cheaper, and notice the high percentage of ipod owners who still use the inferior packaged ear buds.

    If you don't mind a few niggles, run hackingtosh on your free hardware and buy OSX for £28 online.

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