A financial analyst predicts that the ubiquity of computer viruses, and Apple's success in its music ventures, will drive more and more Windows users to switch to Macs.
In a recent report, Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf downgraded Apple's stock from a buy to a hold because of the company's high share price. But he noted that the pace of innovation at Apple is worth watching, and could rate a higher share valuation in the near future.
Wolf observed that Windows users are buying Macs in increasing numbers, and that in the first three quarters of 2005, over one million Windows users have purchased a Mac. This is double the firm's original estimate for the entire calendar year.
As much as Apple would likely enjoy seeing a major spike in Mac buying, it is likely that purchasing will grow only incrementally on the basis of the success of other Apple ventures like the iPod, said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky.
Kusnetzky pointed out that, in the consumer market, Windows users might contemplate switching to Macs, but Apple will find it much harder to win over the large, lucrative corporate market.
"The issue here is applications," he said. "There are a number of consumer software packages that are the same on the Mac as on Windows, but in the office, that's not always the case."
Specifically, customized software like database applications could run on Macs with the use of software that emulates Windows, but companies prefer to use the native hardware, he said, rather than go through the expense and effort to switch.
It is likely that the discussion over whether to go Windows or Mac will be revived next year when Apple begins rolling out its Intel-based notebooks.
If the company can present speedy computers that have fewer security issues than Windows, then it is possible that more analysts and computer buyers will share Wolf's viewpoint.
Especially worth watching is Apple's balance of its iPod and iTunes efforts and hardware products. Innovation in one area could foster new developments in other areas, Wolf noted.