Market Overview

Does Apple's Increasing Market Share Make it Less Competitive?

Despite its popular appeal and enormous image, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) still maintains only a relatively small percentage of the market share for personal computer operating systems.

While the benefits of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad products may make Apple an attractive choice for consumers around the globe, relatively high pricing may keep Apple's products out of reach for many consumers.

Interestingly, this may ultimately be a good thing for the brand.

It is clearly a controversial topic to try to nail down exactly what brings consumers toApple. Yet, one aspect is almost certainly among them: a resiliency to viruses and malware.

Mac viruses are virtually unheard of. While Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows users may consider anti-virus software a necessity, Mac users may see little need.

Why are Mac viruses largely unheard of?

One of the primary reasons may be the control Apple exudes over its entire development pipeline. Apple limits the ability of external programmers to write software for its operating system, and limits what hardware can be utilized in an Apple machine. This is in contrast to Windows, which encourages any developer to write for its platform and places virtually no restrictions on which hardware can comprise a Windows machine.

At the same time, a small market share may be a key force behind Apple's success.

Apple machines comprise roughly 20% of the personal computing consumer market, and are (still) virtually nonexistent in the business environment.

Thus, would-be malware writers may find it a better use of their time to design programs for Windows machines. With more in existence, it is simply a better use of resources to write viruses that could affect a larger user base.

It gets interesting when one considers the mobile operating system market.

While the market for devices running a mobile OS is still largely in its infancy compared to desktop and notebook computers, it is rapidly growing and Apple is in a dominant position.

Currently, the iPad dominates the tablet market. Many tablets running Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android OS have been released in recent months, yet none of them have managed to become a serious direct competition to the iPad.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has a tablet set to be released soon, and its device could come closest to challenging the iPad.

Still, as more consumers turn to tablets for their computing needs, it will be interesting to see if Apple can maintain its reputation as being resistant to viruses and malware.

Although viruses for mobile OS have still largely to materialize, it seems logical that one day they may. When that day comes, will programmers focus on iPads and other Apple devices?

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