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iPhone fuels Mac switchers as the gateway to Apple's ecosystem

Apple's mobile gateway from iOS to macOS

Unsurprisingly, after more than a decade of mobile dominance, the iPhone is the primary gateway to Apple's ecosystem for new and existing users to other products.

The iPhone has become the entry point into an ecosystem that comprises Mac, iPad, Apple Watch, and other products. A recent Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) study reveals that many first-time Mac buyers were already embedded within the Apple ecosystem through the iPhone or iPad.

According to CIRP's analysis, 80% of customers who transitioned from a PC or Chromebook to a Mac in 2023 were not new to Apple's ecosystem. These consumers already owned an iPhone, an iPad, or both.

The "iPhone to other Apple products" pipeline has shifted recently. A report from 2021 showed that iPhone users were drawn to the iPad but not the Mac or Apple's home devices.

Bar chart comparing iPhone at 80% and iPad at 77%, presumably representing some form of metric or satisfaction rate.
iOS Device Possession Among New Mac Purchasers (twelve months ending December)

The allure of iPhones and their increasing dominance in the US market is widely recognized. The iPad, too, offers a straightforward entry into Apple's product line, introducing functionalities like drawing with an Apple Pencil.

And, it shouldn't be surprising. In 2014, there were 18 iPhone users to every Mac user, based on Apple's earnings data. It's harder to glean that information now, given changes in reporting, but it's between 20 and 30 iPhone users to every Mac user today.

Transitioning to a Mac, however, presents a different scenario for those accustomed to Windows or Chromebook environments, demanding an adjustment period and some learning.

"Now the common elements of the iOS universe can make switching to Mac seem like an easy transition, CIRP says. "In fact, iMessage, FaceTime, iCloud photos and backup, and more may make a new Mac feel like an extension of the comfortable iOS environment, rather than an alien land for former Windows and Chromebook users."