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March 10, 2006

Apple Could Sell 1 Million More Macs If They Could Run Windows Apps Fast - Study

Courtesy of TechWeb News

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Apple Computer Inc. would stand to sell 1 million more Macs to current PC users, if the new Intel-based Macs could run Windows applications at the same speed and performance as PCs, a study showed.

However, before such a windfall could be realized, a number of technical hurdles would have to be crossed. Among the key problems is the use of different technology to start Windows and Apple's OS X, investment banking firm Needham & Co. LLC said in a report issued this week.

Needham's study of Mac and Windows users found a switching rate among the latter of between 11.7 percent and 13.5 percent, if the new Macs could eventually run Windows applications natively, which means with no performance degradation. The latter number would translate into a 22 percent increase in Mac shipments over 2005, or 1 million machines, boosting Apple's share of the home computer market to 9.2 percent from its current 5.1 percent, Needham said.

The study, however, is biased. The report was based on a survey of 255 students at eight major universities. Apple's share of the education market is far higher than among the general population, indicating that students are more likely to switch.

Among the survey respondents, 25 percent used Macs, Needham said. In the kindergarten-through-12 market, Apple holds a 14.8 percent share in the United States, according to International Data Corp.

In acknowledging the bias, Needham said there was "no precise way" to scale the survey results to determine Apple's potential boost in the home market, which is its largest potential market. Nevertheless, the findings were dramatic enough to warrant a second study, which Needham plans to do.

"A follow up survey that targets home users is clearly warranted and one we shall attempt," the report, co-authored by analysts Charlie Wolf and John Lynch, said.

Apple unveiled in January the first of its Macs to run on Intel Corp. processors, which also drive Windows machines. Since Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced the switch from IBM's PowerPC chip in June 2005, the industry has been abuzz with speculation on when the new "Mactel" machines would run Windows applications.

Among the key reasons many PC users do not switch is the fact they would have to buy all new software, which would be expensive. In addition, many software makers do not sell Mac versions of their Windows products.

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