'Halo effect' of iPod, iPhone sales help bring new users to Apple

By Suzanne Choney

August 28, MSNBC

More home users, and a growing number in the small business sphere, are opting to move to Apple’s computers, their interest driven by positive experiences with Apple's other products, as well as disenchantment with the Windows world.

Analysts say the appeal of Macs is in part due to a “halo effect,” created mainly by Apple’s iPod, which has 71 percent of the digital music player market in the United States, as well as from the iPhone.

“The popularity of other Apple products, particularly the iPod, has drawn more users to the Apple platform,” said Charles Smulders, Gartner’s managing vice president, client computing. “As a result, you see this halo effect of people buying Apple computers in addition to their iPods. Quantifying the halo effect is difficult, but we certainly believe that effect exists.”

What is quantified is Apple’s growth in the last two years in the home and small business areas, with sales of its iMac desktop computers, and MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops.

“If you look at just the U.S. home market, Apple had a 10.4 percent share at the end of the first quarter of this year, compared to 7.5 percent for the first quarter of 2007, and 5.4 percent for the first quarter of 2006,” Smulders said.

Among small businesses, defined as having 100 or fewer employees, Apple has been “gaining some ground, too,” he said.

The company had a 4.4 percent share of the small business market in the United States at the end of the first quarter this year, compared to 2.4 percent in 2007, and 2.1 percent two years ago, according to Gartner.

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photo:Apple's line of desktop and laptop computers, including the MacBook Pro, shown, and the MacBook, have had growing appeal to those who already are using the company's iPod digital music player or iPhone. (By Apple)