Personal Computer

The history of the Personal Computer market (since 1981) is shown below:

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 4-14-10.55.36 AM

Note that I added a forecast for 2015.  Data from Gartner shows Windows PCs declining at a 6% rate in Q1 with a full-year forecast of -2.4% (including OS X). Assuming 20.7 million Macs, the Windows PC market will decline to 285.6 million units (from 295 million in 2014). My estimate is that iOS and OS X combined shipments will total about 302 million.

If this rather conservative forecast is correct then in 2015 Apple will ship more iOS and OS X computers than all Windows PCs combined[1] .



  1. This excludes iPod touch, Apple TV and Apple Watch. PC data is from public Gartner press releases. []
  • Why no Android devices?

    • Why they should be included?

      • normm

        Aren’t at least some fraction of Android phones personal computers?

      • Bart

        We don’t know that fraction. None of them even report SALES let alone break it down by model. All smoke and mirrors.

      • What does that have anything to do with it?

      • David

        The title of the chart is “personal computer shipment”. You have left out a large segment of personal computers being shipped wirldwide. In that sense, chrome laptops should also be included in the chart.

      • The Personal Computer refers to what is commonly abbreviated PC and implies Windows. I have no story to tell about all potential computing devices (relative to Apple devices).

      • Yes, but I’m not trying to compare Android devices with anything. I’m comparing Windows Personal Computers with Apple devices.

    • Christian Peel

      The number of Android devices has already (years ago) passed the number of PCs, so there is no story to be written about it 🙂

      • Bart

        If you count toss away feature phones that just happen to be running yet another “free” version of Android? If you count pirate memory sticks and ‘smart’ refrigerators, and ‘dumb’ phones that have ‘Android’ on them (but largely unused).

        Android isn’t one thing, so you can’t just add up all the various and sundry toss offs and think you have some grand total. That’s fiction.

        ‘Androids’ only exist to pump data to Google, most of them can barely even be considered ‘smart’ phones, and the users don’t treat them as such, either. Look at their pathetic ‘app’ sales. Barely a blip on the radar.

    • Kizedek

      From a business perspective, the comparison that Horace made is far more interesting. The (Windows) PC platform was built on OS licenses. It’s what made MS, and for many years it was considered an unassailable strategy.

      Outside iOS, the Mobile OS is becoming commoditized. Google’s business is pretty opaque, and, to be honest, becoming increasingly less interesting with each quarter that goes by. Android handset makers seem to come and go, wax and wane. Again, not very interesting; maybe making a little money her or there, but largely losing money.

      So, what is interesting is that one single company, Apple, is, as Horace points out, producing devices and PCs that rival the whole rest of the PC industry combined. And, unlike the Android device business, each iPhone sold represents greater revenue and profit greater than individual PCs sold.

    • Bart

      Android is irrelevant, and has no support or tie in to any computing platform, unlike iOS which Android so blatantly follows.

  • Jeff silverman

    Great call out

  • Jeff Silvermam

    Depends on point of article; but android devices have been a part of the disruption of windows; they are as much personal computers as apple products;

    • Bart

      And they wouldn’t even exist if not for iOS. They would have all been blackberry rip-offs instead. Do you really think blackberry would have displaced the PeeCee like the iPhone did? How would that have worked, in your imagination? Google has readily admitted it over and over and you all still think Roid deserves some kind of special treatment? It’s a generic non-equivalent that has really added nothing to the conversation, other than some less than genuine ‘competition’ for iOS.

      • Davel

        Not true.

        While Android may be a copy of iOS, to dismiss it out of hand is disingenuous.
        There are a billion devices sold every year. Samsung has world wide appeal. Millions of users world wide depend and use Android devices in the same way that users interact with Apple devices.

      • Bart

        It’s 100% true, nothing whatsoever “disingenuous” about it either. Sorry if you can’t handle the truth.

        It amuses me that while Google has stated it as such on numerous occasions, their fanboys still try to rationalize their decision to buy a lame rip off at hardly no discount whatsoever over the original iPhones that all of Android so blatantly mimicks.

  • Scott Sterling

    This post compares Apple computers – iOS and OS X – to all Windows PCs. (Android devices are neither.) The point is: what a great story, Apple’s survival and now prosperity in the computing marketplace.

  • nick

    why not add windows phone then? A little shallow comparison.

    • pdq3

      I doubt the graph would be able to show anything that small.

    • Bart

      Rounding error is a bigger factor than that.

      • “Microsoft sold 9.3 million Lumia phones in the most recent quarter” ( For 2015 combined with phones from other manufacturers and a drop of tables it can be well over 30 million, which can be represented on this graph.

      • Bart

        All sorts of irrelevant things could be added. Macs could have been recognized for years in all manner of PC publications, but they were not.

      • Walt French

        It’s interesting. I don’t know the current developer activity, but really wonder which apps are going to put any effort into the WinPhone platform, which has been EOL’d three times (WinMo, WinPhone7 and WinPhone8) in the last few years, basically asking devs to throw out their platform-specific work after puny sales/users.

        In that way, Windows Phone isn’t so much a failed platform as one that has not been alive enough to fail.

        Today’s phone ecosystems rely on independent developers plus a strong user base that funds the platform owners to do core functions such as driving instructions, messaging and the like. WinPhone’s indie software will never be competitive without 10% market share and it’ll never get 10% market share without JTBDs such as killer indie apps serve.

        I’m sure there are many people who look at the Lumias as very well-made phones with sufficient features for their purposes. But it’s not clear that their buyers intend them to be mobile personal computers with phone capability.

        In any case, the whole exercise of deciding what to leave in and what to leave out hides an amazing fact, that less than 20 years after Apple was left for dead by the curb, it is selling more devices than the product that vanquished it.

      • You are right. Apps ecosystem is very important to success of a platform. And Apple’s mobile apps platform is by far the most successful.

        Not everyone, who buys a smartphone, buys it as mobile computing device. But same is true for the iPhones (although, likely in a smaller proportion). So calling iPhone a personal computer, but Windows Phone just a phone and dismissing it altogether is somewhat unjust.

        So, again, Apple has made a phenomenal come back and there is no taking that away from them. But this win over PCs illustrated by the graph feels a little bit like world champion in sprint getting 10m handicap over a bunch of sports veterans – everybody knows he wins, but those 10m spoil the triumph.

      • Walt French

        I’m pretty sure Nadella is working his hardest to make WinPhone a success, but just as sure that he has yet to find the key that will make it one. At least, I haven’t seen any activity that’d make it more successful; in fact, merging Win10 makes it less likely, at least in the near term. IMO.

        Until/unless he finds it, WinPhone is a vanity project, just like the real players have. Well, sorta like.

        In contrast to the phone, Windows is unquestionably a strength for Microsoft; a major source of profit. It meets many needs, especially in the corporate marketplace, that NO OTHER system does. But it’s as if Microsoft has tuned it like an engine that works great at 3000RPM, but awful at 2000 or 4000—move a bit out of that sweet spot and its advantage falls off sharply.

    • The Gnome

      Windows has a phone?

    • mieswall

      I have just installed Microsoft’s ‘one note’ in my iphone and ipad, now i’ll do it in my mac. I read a review comparing ‘one note’ with evernote. They (PC users) tried the software in everything, except … windows phone. And also found these programs in general run nicer in IOS, and, btw, awfully in android.
      The point is that the graph makes sense: we are on the verge that even a company like Microsoft may get more business from IOS/OSX than from their own S.O. As, btw, is it happening to the very Google, that probably obtains more mobile related profits from IOS than their own Android.

    • Merckel

      Windows phones are invisible. A nit. A rounding error.

  • MichaelGlotzer

    One take away from this graph is how much room there is for the Mac to grow. Halo effect part two.

  • MarkG

    Technically, Windows came out in Nov, 1985. So, not sure what the data before that is showing.

  • 程肯

    So, who won the PC wars now? 😉

  • Vincent bowry

    Victory at last!