The launch of Vista could cut Mac market share in the short term, according to investment banking firm Piper Jaffray. However, the firm also said that some PC users might buy a Mac instead of upgrading to Vista.
In a note to investors, Piper Jaffray Piper analyst Gene Munster, explained that the launch of Vista had triggered a PC refresh cycle. He said that pent up demand for Vista-powered PCs was likely to negatively impact Mac market share. He said Apple’s market share could fall to 2.3% in the March quarter, down 0.2% from 2.5% in December.
With Apple loosing market share over two consecutive quarters, Munster questioned whether the halo effect was still working for Apple. In consumer marketing, the halo effect is where consumers buying one product from a company, also buy another, because they perceive the company as being universally good. In the case of Apple, this would be iPod users buying Macs.
“Given this would be the second consecutive quarter Apple will lose market share, there will be debate as to the strength of the halo effect,” he wrote.
On the other hand, the Munster also postulated that with so many computer users thinking about upgrading their computers, some might decide to “get a Mac“. He noted that Apple was using the perceived difficulty of upgrading to Vista as an opportunity to promote the Macintosh:
“Apple is recognizing its opportunity to gain mind share with consumers,” he wrote. ”The company views this season of Vista-related computer purchases as an opportunity to sell more Macs… In an email to registered iPod owners with PCs, Apple asked customers: ‘Upgrading to Vista? Think Mac.’ Apple also launched national TV ad campaigns in the US, UK, and Japan criticizing Vista’s difficult installation process and frustrating security features.”
Interestingly, in a survey of 50 Best Buy stores, Munster found that 80% of the stores sold fewer copies of Vista than they thought they would. However, 72% said that sales of PCs had increased.
Munster predicts that Apple’s market share will recover in June, as the Vista effect fades. In the longer term Munster believes that Apple will gain market share with the PC market moving towards notebook computers. Apple is a strong player in the notebook segment.