Even though sales of Apple Macintosh computers are growing faster than shipments of Microsoft Windows-based systems, they still lag behind skyrocketing sales of iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
For many years Apple concentrated on niche markets in a bid to secure maximum gross margins and provide special-purpose functionality for loyal customers while sacrificing everything that a mainstream Windows user would appreciate. As a consequence, Macintosh systems were used by a few percents of users. With iOS (and before that, with iPod), Apple changed the paradigm: those devices are aimed at hundreds of millions. The result is absolutely clear: Apple sold more iOS-based devices in 2011 than it sold Macintosh personal computers throughout its whole history, according to calculations by Asymco market tracking company.
"[55 million of Apple iPad sales] is something no one would have guessed. Including us. To put it in context, it took us 22 years to sell 55 million Macs. It took us about 5 years to sell 22 million iPods, and it took us about 3 years to sell that many iPhones. And so, this thing is, as you said, it's on a trajectory that's off the charts," said Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, at Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.
The iOS platform as a whole reached 316 million cumulative units at the end of last year, according to Asymco. The iOS platform overtook the OS X platform in under four years and more iOS devices were sold in 2011 (156 million) than all the Macs ever sold (122 million). Interestingly, Apple shipped only 32 million of Macintosh PCs from mid-eighties till the year 2000 and sales of Macs actually started to grow rapidly starting from mid-2006.
Apple is on-track merging iOS and OS X platforms. Will the Apple OS platform in general be able to leave behind Microsoft Windows platform? Unlikely. But only time will tell.