Apple establishing iPhone, Leopard 'halos'; gains in small business

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Mac sales are accelerating faster than anticipated across the board thanks to the iPhone and Leopard, and could even crack the elusive business market that has remained a Windows sanctuary, according to a pair of new reports.

The greatest immediate increase should come to the home space, says a new ChangeWave study provided to AppleInsider. About a quarter of those looking for computers during the summer months favor Macs versus other brands and could create a "transformation" in marketshare for Apple should the study's claims hold true.

Over the course of the next three months, about 22 percent of those respondents looking for desktops and 28 percent of notebook seekers intend to buy an Apple computer. The jumps represent an extra 4 and 9 percent of the total survey base switching allegiances compared to the March quarter, the analysts say.

Both spikes are the strongest seen by ChangeWave since October 2005 and signal a dramatic change from the past, where increases were typically gradual at best. But this may be the sign of things to come, the report says.

"Clearly, it's that the advance publicity and release of the Apple iPhone is concurrently having a 'Halo Effect' on Apple computer sales," ChangeWave notes.

The survey was conducted in early June, just as Apple's ad campaign for the iPhone shifted into higher gear in anticipation of the June 29th launch. Shoppers interested in Mac OS X Leopard looking to upgrade upon its release were also cited as a possible factor.

A second report, however, indicates that the Mac maker may have already breached the walls of the small to medium business market courtesy of a steadily improving reputation for Mac OS X.

New research obtained from New York City-based AMI Partners points to Apple more than doubling its share of the historically indifferent medium business world in the past year. Use of Mac desktops in the cubicles of mid-sized businesses has reportedly spiked from 13 to 27 percent and has seen a higher-still gain in notebooks, surging from 8 to 18 percent. Small business have also seen healthy gains for desktops (7 to 12 percent) and notebooks (5 to 8 percent), AMI says.

Though the researchers nod towards hardware design as an influence, most of the credit is given to Mac OS X. The release of Tiger in 2005 has reportedly helped Apple gain respect among normally Windows-only firms, with 88 percent of small businesses and 98 percent of medium businesses saying they were considering Macs for their next computers.

Echoing ChangeWave, AMI also projects that Apple may ride a further wave of popularity at the workplace through Mac OS X Leopard, many of whose features will help in smaller businesses. iChat AV and Time Machine have been singled out as particularly useful alternatives for companies that want partial backups and online presentations without resorting to specialized and often costly hardware. This and wider network support could tip the balance, the company says.

"With Mac OS X Leopard launching this coming fall, Apple may well attract a new wave of users," AMI expert Yedda Chew claims. "Especially among Windows PC users that had been taking a wait and see attitude about Mac OS X Tiger."

 

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