For decades, Apple has struggled with the impression that it’s just a bit player in the overall PC marketplace, with the overall share of Macintosh computers accounting for just a fraction of the global computer market—although the so-called “halo effect” of successful consumer products like the iPod and the iPhone has apparently translated into improved Macintosh sales. However, a new report from market research firm NPD suggests that Apple utterly dominates the market in one interesting segment: computers that cost over $1,000.
According to NPD, Apple’s Macintosh computers accounted for 91 percent of computers sold in June 2009 that cost more than $1,000. That’s up from a still-astonishing figure of 88 percent in May 2009. Apple currently only offers three computers with price tags under $1,000: two Mac mini models (which don’t come with monitors or even keyboards) and the low-end MacBook which barely scoots under the line at $999.
Although the market share numbers might at first seem to bespeak Apple’s success, they may in fact fuel the arguments of Apple-bashers and even Microsoft’s marketing description of an “Apple tax” associated with Macintosh computers. NPD notes that the market for systems over $1,000 is shrinking considerably: where computers routinely cost over $1,000 a decade ago, these days such expensive systems account for fewer than 10 percent of all computers sold. The NPD study also points out that the average selling price for a Windows-based notebook was $515, while Mac notebooks sold for $1,400 on average.
On the other hand, Apple has never aspired to being a volume leader in the PC industry, and although folks have been predicting the company’s (and the Macintosh’s) demise since the mid-80s, both are still around. Apple seems content to occupy a relatively high-end—and high margin—niche in the PC market, while letting Microsoft—and PC makers like HP, Dell, and Acer—define the industry’s lowest common denominator.