Ratio of PCs sold over Macs drops to 1985 levels

The ratio of PCs sold to Macs has steadily been dropping, and is now at 1985 levels from when the first Mac debuted.

Apple's MacBook Pro
(Credit: Apple)

Creating a chart that reveals the ratio of PC-to-Mac sales since 1984, Asymco analyst Horace Dediu was able to track the rise and fall of that ratio over more than 25 years.

The ratio was about 20:1 in 1985, following the 1984 launch of the first Mac.

From there, the ratio went through some ups and downs for a good 10 years until around 1996, when it moved up to 15:1 and then started to rise every year. PCs continued to enjoy a huge and growing demand over Macs through the next several years, as the ratio hit a high of around 55:1 in 2004.

But then the gap started to narrow. From a ratio of less than 45:1 in 2005, the gap continued to drop each year until reaching a low of around 20:1 last year, as narrow as it was in 1985.

Dediu's chart looks at only computers, not other devices, Business Insider pointed out. So it doesn't include the countless iPhones and iPads that Apple has sold. But the iPhone and iPad have certainly influenced Mac sales.

Though the ratio was already dropping, it took a nosedive to around 33:1 in 2007 — the same year that the iPhone was introduced. And it's fallen ever since, as Apple has unveiled more mobile devices. The heavy demand for those mobile devices has triggered more interest in Macs and other Apple products, and has lured more customers into Apple stores, where the full range of products is on display.

(Credit: Horace Dediu)

While overall PC sales have floundered over the past couple of years, Apple has been one of the few vendors to remain above water. An August 2011 report from NPD Group found that PC sales in the US had grown only 4 per cent over the prior year, while Mac sales had shot up 26 per cent over the same period.

Apple and HP have also been duelling for the top spot in PC sales over the past several months, as tracked by research firm Canalys.

After taking the crown late last year, Apple narrowly lost the top spot back to HP during the first quarter.

Of course, Canalys counts the iPad as a PC, which certainly helps Apple. But that doesn't discount the increasing demand for Mac computers.

However you slice it, the Mac still owns just a tiny percentage of overall computer sales. But the narrowing ratio revealed by Dediu shows that more consumers are realising that Macs are a viable and often appealing alternative to the vast array of Windows PCs.


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