updated 04:20 pm EST, Mon December 17, 2007
NPD on Leopard vs Vista
The release of Mac OS X Leopard in late October was both Apple's strongest operating system release to date and evidence that the company may have a greater understanding of how to launch such software, according to a new study from NPD Group. The research firm notes that Apple sold 20.5 percent more copies of Leopard in its first full month on sale than Tiger, which released about 2.5 years earlier. The actual revenue increased by 32.8 percent, hinting at more stand-alone copies sold with the new release in place of up-to-date program copies or those bundled with new systems.
By releasing the OS with the features and publicity that it has, Apple has likely discovered the solution to boosting stand-alone sales, NPD says. Though the October launch is the unintentional result of iPhone development creating a delay and short-staffing the company's Mac OS X team, the fall timing placed the launch in the midst of the holiday shopping season and may account for some of the sales increase.
In contrast, Microsoft has seen a continued slowdown in Vista sales since the Windows variant's launch in January of this year. Though the Redmond, Washington-based company sold as many as 20 million copies per month on launch, the sales rate has declined rapidly to 9.3 million and is believed to be achieving higher shipment numbers than Windows XP in the same period due to a larger overall computer industry rather than open adoption.
Microsoft has been criticized both for the multiple delays that pushed the OS past its original 2004 release window and for adding unnecessary complexity to the release, offering two separate Home versions, a Business version, and high-end editions both for enterprises and an Ultimate copy that provides all the features in one package. Apple's choice of a single, $129 client version is frequently considered an important factor in motivating users to upgrade ahead of replacing their computers.