Simon Baker
Simon Baker (Senior Research Director, Mobile Phones/Consumer Devices)

Apple used the Mac to launch the iPhone 12 years ago, but the iPhone grew into a far bigger product. Globally the company shipped 209 million iPhones in 2018 according to IDC data, against 18 million Macs. Apple then leveraged the global position of the iPhone to launch the iPad (in 2010) and then the Apple Watch (in 2015). But how well has Apple succeeded in selling its products in particular markets?

Using data from IDC quarterly trackers for 2018, here is a look at the shipments relationships between Apple products by region and country.

IDC’s data is based on supply side trackers, so it does not show what proportion of these other products are owned by users of iPhones. As the numbers of iPads and Apple Watches are considerably smaller than those for phones, however, we’re confident that most of them are owned by Apple users who own multiple products.


From iPhones to iPads to Apple Watches

Let’s look at this chronologically, from Apple’s most successful product, the iPhone, to the iPad and the Apple Watch, and then back to the Mac. We will not touch on the iPod, launched in 2001, as IDC does not have market data on it.

Apple has generally done very well with the iPad and has doubled the global market share in tablets than it does in smartphones.

iPads have shipped particularly well in Asia. In 2018 they accounted for three-quarters of the tablet market in Hong Kong, and they have sold well in some countries that had not taken to the iPhone to anywhere near the same level — in the key China market, for example, Apple’s 38% tablet market share is four times higher than in smartphones. And in Thailand, Apple has half of the tablet market, compared with less than 8% in smartphones.

Each New Market Is Smaller, so Apple Sells Mainly to the Faithful

There are also some countries where the iPad has underperformed against the iPhone. Most of these are in Western Europe — in Finland and in Germany, and, to a lesser extent, in the UK. Israel is another example.

In Apple’s home market of the US, the company holds pretty much equal shares across the two products.

When we move on to smartwatches, Apple has clearly been very successful with the Apple Watch. The iPhone has recorded a big jump in market share over the Mac, the iPad nearly doubled this, and in Smartwatches the percentage has gone up even further, to almost half the market (see chart).



Taking this class of smartwatches, in a number of countries Apple has more than 60% of the market, once again with a focus on Asia, including Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. In Europe, though, the company did better relatively than with iPads and hit a similar high market share in Germany and the Netherlands.

Looking again at its home market of the US, Apple has a share of nearly two-thirds, compared with two-fifths in phones and tablets. There are one or two outliers here: Apple Watches do very well in most Latin American countries, including Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, despite the iPhone and the iPad having relatively weaker positions.

More Competition Yet to Come in Smartwatches

Apple Watch shipments are not as strong in China. This should not come as a surprise considering the number of Chinese vendors that have launched their own smartwatches (Huawei and Xiaomi in particular). It also suggests that as these vendors increase their activities abroad, Apple’s share could come under pressure in other countries. Samsung also sells smartwatches, but the difference between Apple’s share across watches, tablets, and smartphones is less pronounced in Samsung’s home market of Korea than it is China.

Let’s return to the Mac.

At first sight, its performance is not that impressive. Its share of the PC market is highest in Hong Kong, at 26.9%, but that is only half of its smartwatch share there and a third of its iPad share. In the US, Macs have a 15.2% share in PCs — this is only a third of the iPhone share, which is pretty much par for the course for the Mac in richer countries.

Interestingly, some of the figures are reversed in poorer countries. In India, the Mac has a quite respectable share of 6.7% of PC sales, despite a smartphone position of only 1%.

Has the iPhone Helped the Mac?

Here there can be no argument that the iPhone’s success has been largely built on a previous product — iPhones outsell Macs eight to one, so most iPhone users have never used a Mac. We could also ask if the iPhone has turned more consumers towards Macs, and the answer is probably not, as Mac volumes have been fairly static for the past eight years.

However, the total market comparison is perhaps not that fair. The business market is very important in PCs, and much less so in smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches, and the business PC market is very focused on Microsoft Windows. In the consumer segment of PCs — slightly less than half of the total — Apple has twice the share (9.8%) than it has in the business segment. Its share of the consumer market grew for a number of years, until 2015, when iPhone shipments also began to peak. This suggests that iPhones may have provided some boost to Mac sales.

Product Creativity is the Biggest Challenge

It’s no surprise that generally Apple performs best in all products in markets where its brand is the strongest overall. There are still a number of differences in the relative rates of popularity of the different Apple devices from region to region and country to country. One can imagine that these must come up quite often at internal Apple reviews of marketing performance — leading, no doubt, to some spirited discussions.

Apple has gone from strength to strength in the new products it has launched after the iPhone, but each new market has been smaller than the last.

The biggest challenge for the company is to continue to come up with new products — even more so now after the recent departure of Jony Ive, Apple’s long-time product designer.




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