Apple Has a Bigger Problem Than You Think

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Things just aren't getting any easier for the PC industry.

Industry tracker Gartner is out with its quarterly metrics for the computer market, and things don't look good for the desktop and laptop markets.

Worldwide shipments fell 10.9%, to 76 million units. It's the fifth straight quarter of declines for the industry. That's never happened.

Microsoft updating its operating system late last year was supposed to be the catalyst that triggered an upgrade cycle, but we're now three quarters into the Windows 8 era. It's just not going to happen. Folks are loading up on tablets, especially in emerging markets, where tablets are the new laptops. Smartphones are also dampening the demand for full-blown PCs, and that's bad news for Microsoft in a world where most tablets and smartphones run either iOS or Android.

There were some notable moves during the period. Lenovo overtook Hewlett-Packard to ship the most computers worldwide during the past three months. Dell remains a distant third.

However, things were interesting closer to home, with PC shipments only declining by 1.4%, to clock in just shy of 15 million units.

HP and Dell retained their top positions, and Dell actually saw year-over-year domestic improvement. Then we get to Apple , where the Cupertino magic is running thin.


Q2 2013


Q2 2012



























Source: Gartner (July 2013).

You may notice that Mac daddy posted the largest year-over-year decline, but perhaps even more surprising is that Apple is the only one of the four largest players to actually see its market share contract during the period.

Remember Apple's halo effect? When the iPod took off, it triggered a spike in Apple computer sales. The halo effect didn't show any signs of slowing during the iPhone and iPad rollouts, but the class act of Cupertino is certainly vulnerable now.

Apple is still selling plenty of iPads and iPhones, but for some reason, the halo effect is no longer working. The consumer tech giant may have done too good a job with its mobile devices, giving Mac fans fewer reasons to pony up for new Apple computers. 

There could be an even scarier explanation. What if Macs are no longer cool because Apple is pushing older iPhones and iPads that carry lower price tags, but also make Apple seem less stylish and innovative? The same halo effect that sent folks scrambling toward Apple products may now be repelling computer shoppers. That would be a dreadful scenario, and it's one that Apple better make sure isn't the case. 

Trading in halos for devil horns
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The article Apple Has a Bigger Problem Than You Think originally appeared on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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