For those new to the tech scene, it might be hard to imagine, but there was a time when Apple
barely registered a blip on the radar compared to today. Long before iPads and iPhones and iPod touch devices and MacBook Air models, the IBM PC was the top dog (IBM has since sold its PC division to Lenovo). It once ran MS-DOS, the dominant operating system when the first Macintosh arrived in 1984, and they were outselling the Mac by a factor of 6, according to Asymco.
When Windows 95 emerged, PC (Windows-based systems, in this context) sales flourished, and would eventually outsell their Mac rivals by a ratio of 56-to-1 in 2004, when 182.5 million PCs were sold compared to just 3.25 million Macs.
"During the second half of the 90s it was already clear that Windows won the PC platform war. Windows had an advantage that seemed unsurmountable," Asymco notes in a blog post examining the trend of PC and Mac sales over the years.
Which platform rests underneath the hood of your system?
It turns out 2004 was a turning point. PC volumes, while still on the up and up, weren't growing quite as fast, and the MacBook emerged as a highly sought after laptop in the increasingly popular mobile sector.
"As a result the Mac began to whittle down the advantage Windows had," Asymco notes. "The ratio of Windows to Mac units shipped fell to below 20, a level that was last reached before Windows 95 launched. It’s as if the Mac reversed the Windows advantage. This was an amazing turnaround for the Mac."
The numbers favor Apple even more if you include all devices the company sells (like iPads), reducing the PC-to-Apple device sales ratio to below 2. Asymco believes this presents "dire" consequences for Microsoft, because for the first time in a long time, Windows is vulnerable to direct competition.