Reasons Why Not To Choose a Macintosh

Reason 32 of : “Mac OS will come out on PC eventually”

I probably wouldn't be banking on this if I were you...

The argument that this should happen, is that it would gain significant market share for Mac OS X – i.e. just the OS, not the whole Macintosh platform – and give Microsoft a bit of competition in the PC market.

At first, this sounds like a no brainer. But it skims over one simple fact; Apple is a hardware company. Its software – specifically Mac OS X in this case – is merely part of the Macintosh package; an instrument to differentiate the Mac platform, and therefore sell more hardware. Enabling consumers to choose generic, non-Apple hardware to run OS X on, would not achieve this. In fact, inevitably, the direct opposite.

Yeah, but, Microsoft does well out of it

Microsoft on the other hand, is a software company whose mandate is – unsurprisingly – to sell as much software as they can to run on as many PCs as possible. They make most of their money selling licences to OEMs for Windows to be the standard installation on their PCs. Yet while this may be a very profitable business for Microsoft, the likelihood of Apple being able to tap into this financial source to any meaningful degree, is highly unlikely. Microsoft has that wrapped up tight.

So that just leaves the after market for boxed, retail operating system packages; i.e. separately purchased and installed afterwards, not the standard OS installation. But how large and profitable is that market? Profitable enough to counteract the inevitable reduction of hardware sales as a percentage of existing Mac buyers decide to buy their hardware from someone else next time? In market share; probably. In profitability; not even close!

Yeah, but, it would be so good for consumers

The ability to choose from any hardware is often touted as a big advantage of Windows, and a big disadvantage for Macs. And while there are caveats to this, it remains that choosing Windows gives the option of cheap hardware, which choosing OS X precludes. That is a market Apple do not cater to, much to the frustration of many consumers who would prefer such a choice.

It's a large market to ignore. So the thinking is, if they were to enable OS X to run on hardware other than their own, they could get a foot into this market that would otherwise give the Mac platform a miss completely. Additional profit where before there were none. It's a no brainer... surely!

Well, not really. There's no technical reason why Apple couldn't make a cheap PC of their own. Why would they want to give away profits to Dell or HP et al, when they could keep it all themselves? Yet they don't. Why? Answer; offering cheaper, near-zero profit margin hardware would inevitably also cannibalise many sales from their profitable, 'better' hardware. Hence, rather than a guarantee of additional profits, there's a big risk of existing profitability haemorrhaging away...

Not exactly good for business I'd say.

Further reading

Of course, all this is arguably conjecture. It's a much discussed topic that I'll leave any further ins and outs of here for now. But further reading can be had here in this 'Daring Fireball' article. I think it covers the topic rather lucidly.

For now, to summarise, don't go holding your breath of this ever happening. If you want and prefer Apple's Mac OS, then for all practical purposes, you're going to have to buy Apple's hardware too; as likely will always be so.

Info: See also reason 29 – 'I can just run Mac OS on my PC'.

Page content last updated 6 June 2008