Microsoft acorralado por Mac y Linux

En curso de traducción …
El anuncio de que Mac había saltado la barrera del 14 por ciento del mercado de computadoras de los Estados Unidos muestra que por primera vez el porcentaje de computadoras con sistema operativo Microsoft está declinando dramaticamente. El nuevo ganador es la Mac, tal vez por que no hay aún estudios de mercado detallados del mercado de PC con Linux pre-instalado aunque la información cruzada muestra un avance considerable en el mercado corporativo. Los números de Mac son especialmente reveladores. NPD, una empresa de investigación y consultoría global, ha revelado que la parte del mercado que controla Apple en los Estados Unidos saltó a 14 porciento en febrero 2008. Hace apenas un año, en febrero del 2007 tenía el 9 por ciento.

In comparison to the overall market, U.S. PC retail shipments only grew 9 percent in units shipped and a mere 5 percent in revenue in the last year. Macs, in the meantime, saw a 60 percent growth in unit sales with an even more impressive 67 percent gain in revenue growth over the same period.

In an investors’ research note based on the NPD data, Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves said that Apple did especially well with its laptops. Better still, though, “MacBook Air sales appear to be additive to total sales, rather than replacing MacBook Pro sales. We believe a new set of corporate customers makes up a meaningful portion of MacBook Air buyers,” said Hargreaves.

At the same time, while, to the best of my knowledge, no analysis firm is tracking Linux desktop sales yet, empirical evidence makes it clear that Linux desktops are moving into customers’ hands at a quick pace.

For example, according to the Amazon’s Bestsellers: The most popular items in Computers and PC Hardware list of March 21, the best-selling computer is not a Mac. It’s the Asus Eee PC 4G Surf. Simultaneously, other retailers, such as Best Buy and Sears, are also offering low-priced Linux PCs.

While HP still hesitates from being the last of the major PC vendors to commit to desktop Linux, others are predicting great things from the Linux desktop. Asus, the Taiwanese OEM (original equipment manufacturer) behind the Eee Linux PC line, is predicting that it will sell 2 million Linux PCs in 2008.

I see two strong trends here. On the high end, people are buying Macs instead of Windows PC. On the low end, Linux is eating Windows alive.

Windows finds itself being confined to the middle ground.

This is happening because Vista, SP1 and all, has proven to be a commercial flop. Even Microsoft seems to be backing off Vista and looking ahead to its next operating system, Windows 7.

I’ve long predicted that Vista would be a failure and that this failure would give the Linux desktop its shot at the big time. That’s no longer a prediction.

It’s an observation of the facts.

This year is proving to be the year of desktop transformation. I see Macs continuing to gain strength with users who want the best of the best and are willing to pay the price. At the same time, the low end is going to be completely owned by Linux. From there, thanks to PCs and laptops from Dell, Lenovo and, eventually, HP, Linux will start moving up the PC ecosystem. Microsoft will be forced to a very unusual position: a defensive battle.

How Microsoft deals, or fails to deal, with this new challenge will determine if Windows continues to be the dominant desktop operating system. Distracted by its Yahoo buyout plans, its courtroom failures and its leadership changes, Microsoft is in trouble, and that means the other desktop operating systems have their best chance ever to knock Windows off the top of the desktop hill.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

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