Did Apple blow a golden opportunity?

When Microsoft was struggling with the poor reception for Vista, poor search market share, security holes, and other problems, Apple made some inroads on Windows. However, several observers have written that Apple failed to really take advantage when Microsoft was in a hole. Now with Windows 7 revitalizing Microsoft, they say the chance to make substantial gains on Microsoft has passed.

Jim Jubak is a stock market commentator and at his investment blog, he asks, Has Apple blown it? Did the company squander the competitive chance of a lifetime? He makes a pretty good analysis:

But it still looks to me that Apple has missed its chance. It had a limited window of opportunity when competitors such as Microsoft couldn’t do anything right and it didn’t turn that opening into a big enough share of the personal computer market. It was first to market with a game-changing smart phone but the company has pursued a high-end niche strategy with the iPhone that has left the door wide open for Google to grab for the mass market.

If this is as good as it gets for Apple, the company has no one to blame, finally, but itself. The opportunity was there and Apple didn’t exploit it as ruthlessly and as relentlessly as it needed to.

Here’s my basic problem with Apple’s strategy and execution: The company didn’t kick ‘em hard enough when they were down.

In his blog, Bill Pytlovany, Windows expert and the author of WinPatrol, writes:

The market has been ripe for Apple to pick up a sizable portion of the computer share but it has failed. According to market researchers IDC and Gartner, Macintosh sales are up but their share is still way below 10%. That compares to PC sales by Acer and Toshiba. Why doesn’t the Mac have a larger market share?

Apple Inc has a polished image, high customer satisfaction and its brand identity couldn’t be much better. People who chose Macs have been very happy with their purchase. The only portable music play anyone wants is an iPod. The iPhone has set the bar so high for cell phones that companies are struggling to keep up. The stock value of AAPL is double what it was a year ago and is still climbing.

So, why are people still forking over their hard earned money for Windows 7 machines and not Macs? It doesn’t make sense. Did Apple drop the ball while Steve Jobs was on sick leave? In their efforts to target the cool people did they missed an opportunity to attract the main stream market disappointed with Windows Vista?

Personally, I think Apple has decided that the PC is not its main business. After all, it’s the consumer electronics like the iPod and the iPhone that have been blockbuster successes. In PCs, Apple has a strong niche position in the upscale market but apparently doesn’t see any point in going up against an entrenched Windows in the mass PC market.

What do you think? Did Apple miss a big chance to increase its share of the PC market? Or is it really a consumer electronics and entertainment company?

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