Why users are switching from Windows PC to Mac
Apple’s Mac sales are at all time highs with pretty major growth, while there may be some post-pandemic correction in play for the whole PC market, the overall trajectory of Mac sales is looking great. Apple is doing something right with the Mac to convince PC users to switch from Windows PC to Mac. Based on some of our own data, we have a good idea of what Apple is doing that resonates with buyers, to the point at which they are switching at record numbers. As Apple said during WWDC, “there has never been a better time to switch to Mac.”
At the end of 2022 we conducted a survey that spanned 1,500 people, currently employed and representative of the US population. In this study we surveyed participants about their PC/Mac usage habits. Part of the study focused on what was driving Windows PC owners to switch to Mac. Below are some of the more interesting findings from the study.
Apple Silicon (ARM architecture)
Over a third of survey participants selected Apple Silicon as one of the main reasons contributing to switching to a Mac.
Realistically, very few buying a Mac will know about the technical benefits of Apple Silicon and the Arm architecture over Intel x86-64 when it comes to their given workflow. Instead, the practical benefits are what matter to most consumers. These are superior battery life, little-to-no overheating outside of intense use, improved performance, fanless or quieter fans, and improved design of device.
In our research, we found it was important to 42.2% PC and Mac users that they to be able to use their computer for a full day’s worth of work, 31.3% that charging at the end of the day was ok, 29.5% want 2 or more day battery in order to travel without a charger. The inherent benefit to Arm of improved battery life is a major reason why Apple Silicon is a major selling point for switchers. Apple silicon was the primary reason participants in our study were switching to Macs with 47% listing Apple silicon as their top reason for switching.
Hardware Design and Focus
Screen size, speakers, and better camera made up 26-35% of the main reasons users switched to Mac from Windows. Apple, as of WWDC, now offers MacBooks laptops ranging from 13-inches to 16-inches with variety by price and size in-between. You are almost guaranteed best-in-class speakers across all models, with best-in-class in the Pro lineup. As of the redesigned MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, also best-in-class cameras.
In the age of post-COVID remote work, all of these are massively important. Being able to limit the need for external purchases like webcams, speakers, or monitors with a single purchase of a Mac can also lower costs.
One of the major benefits to buying an Apple product, this includes both Mac, iPad, and iPhone is Apple’s support and repair network. If any customer has a problem, Apple Support can generally get it fixed over the phone or refer a customer to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Center, where a problem will be fixed or problem repaired usually within a few hours.
This support system is non-existent for Windows PCs. iPhone users know Apple Support, so while shopping for new computers the security and simplicity that comes with Apple Support when problems arise is there. If the laptop gets damaged, AppleCare+ is easy and reliable. There’s a guarantee of new updates with new features every year.
What about the Apple Mac ecosystem?
According to our data for all age ranges, 18% of survey participants chose iMessage as a main reason to switch to Mac. 20% for macOS. 16% for the seamless integration with their iPhone.
The 18-24 age range is even more interesting, not just because I’m part of that but because only 2% listed seamless integration with iPhone, 7% listed macOS, and 24% listed iMessage. The desire for seamless integration is only a selling point towards the 25+ demographic, and becomes more highly selected as the age demographic becomes older. The younger demographics are happy with looking at their phones, while older users would prefer to use the larger screen.
I’ve seen this play out in school as well, as a current rising senior in college the idea of seamless integration isn’t important. Most people I’ve seen are just willing to pick up their iPhone to send a text, Snapchat, respond to a DM, or even search for something.
From what we can see, the Apple ecosystem is not a major reason people buy Mac. Instead, it’s the product Apple makes. The Apple ecosystem is more than just the software, it’s the idea of quality products that Apple produces. Whether it’s the ease of use of the software, the build quality and feel of the hardware, or simplicity in purchasing and setting up the device. There’s an assumption that it will be a pleasant and good experience.
Anecdotally, as a college student I’ve asked my friends if they really care that iMessage and FaceTime are on their Mac computers. The answer is always something along the lines of: it’s nice, but I don’t need it. This seems to be a common sentiment among most switching to Mac. Picking up a phone to answer a call or text isn’t difficult, being able to do it on their laptop isn’t a major selling point.
With Best Buy, Costco, and Walmart still being the biggest retail environments for Windows PC sales, a consumer using these computers is also an important part of the sales process. When it comes to Windows computers in the $800-$1500 price range, it’s likely most consumers will see a laptop with high end specs but lacking the fit and finish of a Mac.
Intel EVO did make a dent in the thin and light market at reasonable prices, but there is still variety in that between SKUs in terms of design, quality, and battery. In retailers like Costco, Intel EVO showcases give customers a chance to try them, but the experience of trying them ends up being similar to most other retail experiences, with cheap-feeling plastic or lightweight alloy frames with worse feeling and build quality at similar-to-higher prices than Apple.
In the big retail environments, Apple’s MacBooks will be just a few steps away. When comparing similarly priced laptops, it’s hard to justify the purchase of Windows computers in that price range.
When it comes to the social aspect of the purchasing experience, Mac owners are 94% likely to recommend a Mac. When it comes to Windows, this is only 73% for comparative Windows PC brands in the same class as Macs. Word of mouth recommendations are simply higher with Mac users, it also implies users have a simply better experience.
With the lack of competition when it comes to efficiency, design, and branding at competitive prices with MacBook computers, Windows PCs become a hard sell in the retail environment. ARM-based chips in laptops with modern design, features, experience, and support is near-nonexistent.
With the anticipation of Qualcomm’s new 8cx Gen 3 Oryon SoC hitting consumer products next year along with Intel Meteor Lake on the x86-64 architecture promising similar performance, this could be a good start towards proper competition to MacBooks. Well, it could be a good start as long as the outside appearance and hardware match the power and quality on the inside.
Outside of a handful of machines, it’s hard to pinpoint a Windows PC right now that compares with the Mac in terms of build quality or experience. Most are trying to test out unique new form factors or compete on price to stand out. While this has worked in the past, it is becoming a lot less effective now. Now, the way to go is to compete on both quality and price alongside unique form factors.