80% of success is just switching on

How to explain Apple's 51% jump in Mac sales for Q1 of 2008?  When asked yesterday to make sense of the 2.3 million Mac computers sold in the first three months of this year, Steve Jobs was uncharacteristically humble:

“We’re not economists, so we don’t have any more insight than everyone else, but there were sure a lot of people in our stores last quarter.”

But it's not just the excellent Apple stores that account for the remarkable sales success of Mac computers this year. Woody Allen got it right when said that 80% of success is just showing up. Jobs has continued to do what he's been doing for thirty now -- showing up by building high quality personal computers that are easy for people to use. Meanwhile, Microsoft have failed to show up. That 51% increase in the purchase of new Mac computers is a direct consequence of Microsoft's Vista fiasco. In contrast with Apple's OS X operating system, Vista is an absolute disaster; it's perhaps very worst consumer electronics products that I've ever had the misfortune to use.

I've recently got two new laptops -- a Mac and a PC running Vista. Even though I'm not a regular Mac use, the OS X computer, with its intuitive operating system, worked delightfully right of the box. Whereas the Vista machine has caused me all sorts of incredibly irritating problems including not working with my old printer. Most tellingly, when I switch on my Mac, it takes no more than 30 seconds for the machine to boot up. But when I turn on the PC, it takes several minutes to boot and then the computer presents me with a serious of counter-intuitive choices that seem designed to confuse and frustrate me.

It's doesn't take the genius of a Steve Jobs or a Woody Allen to figure this one out. I'm no Mac cultist, but it's obvious that people prefer quality and convenience to crap and inconconvenience. In the personal computer business, 80% of success is just switching on. That's why Mac sales increased 51% this quarter and why Apple now have a 6% share of the American personal computer market. And that's also why the final final battle of the great Apple-Microsoft war has yet to be fought.