The Redmond tech giant's latest website promises to make it easier for Mac owners to make "the switch" to Microsoft's Surface Book. The high-end Windows laptop is among the most compelling alternatives to Apple's MacBook Pro, and Microsoft has taken every opportunity to compare the two machines. While the website in and of itself might not convince too many Mac owners to buy a Surface Book, it does serve to highlight how Microsoft is using its hardware to take on Apple.
Moving tips and tricks
When Microsoft unveiled the Surface Book last month, it explicitly compared the device to Apple's MacBook Pro. "[The] Surface Book [is] two times faster than the MacBook Pro," bragged Microsoft's Panos Panay. The Surface Book is outfitted with Intel's latest processors, and some configurations come with a custom discrete graphics chip. It has a higher-resolution screen than Apple's competing 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. It comes bundled with Microsoft's Surface Pen, the Windows-maker's smart stylus, and its screen supports touch input. Most notably, users can detach the display and use it as a separate, stand-alone Windows tablet.
Microsoft's website emphasizes these features, but it isn't centered around selling the Surface Book. Instead, it features a series of tips and tracks aimed at former Mac owners. Microsoft explains how to move files from a Mac to the Surface Book, and answers common questions someone unfamiliar with the Windows operating system may have.
The Mac's surging market share
Apple derives nearly two-thirds of its revenue from the iPhone, but the Mac is its second-largest business segment. Since 2006, Apple's share of the traditional PC market has risen steadily, and Apple has continued to sell more Macs even as the larger PC market has experienced declines. Last month, research firm IDC released its preliminary data on the state of the PC market in the third quarter. In total, PC shipments fell 10.8% on an annual basis. Mac shipments, however, rose 3% according to Apple's most recent earnings report. Apple is now the world's fourth-largest vendor of PCs, with more than 7% market share.
Windows remains dominant, but its dominance may be slipping, particularly in the U.S., where research firms have pegged the Mac's market share at around 15%. In an interview with Mashable, Apple's Phil Schiller argued that it may be even higher than that. "There are endless numbers of stats out there, you can quote any of them to tell any story, but the number that closest reflects what we all experience and see as we travel around is actually a U.S. market share approaching 25%...You increasingly are seeing more Macs than PCs," he said.
Can Microsoft win over Mac buyers?
Apple's Macs offer competitive hardware for their market segment, but Apple has never used raw power as a selling point. Instead, Macs have traditionally been sold on design and ease of use. The Surface Book offers impressive hardware, but it's still a Windows machine, and those wed to Apple's OS X operating system may be unwilling to make the switch. On Apple's recent earnings call, CFO Luca Maestri announced that IBM was saving $270 for every PC it replaces with a Mac, as Mac users require less support. Additionally, Macs have higher residual value than Windows PCs.
Yet both Windows 10 and the Surface Book have been widely endorsed by critics, and Microsoft's Surface revenue has been steadily rising. Last quarter, Microsoft's Surface generated $672 million, down from $888 million in the prior quarter. Those figures both pale in comparison to Apple's Mac revenue in the corresponding quarters ($6.9 billion and around $6 billion, respectively) but Microsoft's Surface business is young -- just three years old.
Apple's customers are famously loyal, but the Surface Book is a different sort of machine. It won't wipe out the Mac, but it may win over a few converts.