Apple Sales Growth and Guardian Spin

Over at the Guardian tech blog Charles Arthur points out that over the past five years Apple has enjoyed growth of up to 27% while Windows PC manufacturers have seen sales slump. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Surely it’s worthy of serious investigation! There must be something that Windows PC manufacturers could learn here.

And yet the same article points out that Apple’s overall market share has grown from something like 3.35% worldwide to a mighty 4%. That sounds a lot less impressive, doesn’t it?

Apple are a great brand and they make very nice machines but 4% market share is not striking any sort of blow against the Windows behemoth. Using those 27% growth statistics to flog the Windows beast relies on a simple jedi math trick. Here it is:

I sold one book a year in 2009. I sold 2 books in 2010. I managed 100% sales growth and J K Rowling, whose sales numbers are stagnant, would do well to study my methods.

Alternatively I sold one million books in 2009. I sold 950000 books in 2010. My sales slumped by tens of thousands.

Which position would you rather be in — revelling in a mighty 100% growth or suffering through that 5% slump?

It’s easy to achieve high sales growth when you are coming off a small base. It is much harder when you already have a gigantic number of customers.

There are lots of things you can praise Apple for in a business sense — iPhone sales, their app store, their margins compared to PC manufacturers. But spinning this sort of sales growth as some kind of challenge to the Windows monopoly reads like it comes straight from a press release.

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