Asymco’s Horace Dediu recently took a close look at the ongoing market competition between Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Macs and Windows-based PCs and came to some interesting conclusions. According to data from market research firm Gartner cited by Dediu, there were approximately 309 million Windows-based PCs shipped in 2013, down from the 337 million units shipped in 2012.
Although Apple saw 28.5 percent year-over-year growth in the U.S. personal computer market last quarter, Dediu noted that Apple’s overall Mac sales likely declined in 2013. He estimated that Apple shipped 16.4 million Macs last year, down from 17 million units shipped in 2012.
Despite the decline in Mac sales, Dediu noted that Apple still managed to close the gap between Mac and PC shipments in 2013. He estimated that there were 18.8 times more Windows-based PCs sold in 2013 than Macs. Although Windows still had a significant numerical advantage, the analyst pointed out that this was an improvement, since there were about 19.8 times more Windows-based PCs sold in 2012.
Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) declining advantage can be seen in the graph above. Dediu also included data from Apple’s iOS platform in order to demonstrate the impact of mobile devices on the overall PC market.
Although Dediu was primarily exploring the declining market gap between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Macs, he noted that the rise of Apple’s mobile products has obviously contributed to the PC market’s ongoing decline. Not surprisingly, Microsoft’s desktop operating system achieved its highest sales multiple over Apple’s Macs in the years preceding the release of the iPhone and the iPad. According to Dediu, the largest gap between Windows and Macs was in 2004, when there were 56 times more Windows-based PCs sold than Macs, and Apple only held a 1.7 percent share of the PC market.
If iOS devices are included in the overall comparison between Apple and Windows, Microsoft’s PC advantage nearly disappears. According to Dediu, there were only 1.18 more Windows PCs sold than total Apple devices sold in 2013. He predicted that this gap would likely disappear by the end of this year.
Not only does Dediu believe that Apple’s platforms will reach parity with Windows this year, he also believes that market conditions that allowed Microsoft to dominate the PC market no longer exist. The analyst pointed out that computing platform decisions used to be made by large companies. Since many of these companies chose Microsoft’s Windows, the operating system became the dominant industry standard. However, the rise of the mobile market has shifted this decision-making power into the hands of millions of mobile device users.