The biggest threat to Apple comes from the emerging popularity of netbooks and other inexpensive PCs. Apple specializes in high-end systems, while Windows is available on both high-end and inexpensive machines. The emerging popularity of low-priced, low-powered PCs, combined with Windows 7 improvements, could be a one-two punch against Apple.
On the other hand, Snow Leopard could be a kind of stealth weapon for Apple. "Snow Leopard won't make a huge impact overnight for the Mac," Case said. "But the lasting impact will be making this a stronger developer platform. You've seen what happens with the iPhone when you have a good developer platform." Availability of rich, third-party applications have helped drive popularity for the iPhone.
Apple says users downloaded 1.5 billion apps from the App Store in its first year of operation, which ended in July, with more than 65,000 apps from 10,000 developers available.
Apple is the third-largest smartphone vendor, but only has 3% market share, trailing Nokia and RIM, according to Gartner. Apple, however, is growing fast: It had 13% market share in the second quarter of this year, up from 3% in the year-ago quarter.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicts Apple will sell 5 million copies of Snow Leopard through the end of the current quarter. By Friday August 21st, a week before Snow Leopard went on sale, it was already the top-selling product in the Amazon software category.
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