A Half-Million Mac Converts in 2005

In a note to clients, Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf wrote that the "halo effect" surrounding Apple's iPod is indeed real, and his firm is estimating as many as 400,000 Windows users have already made the switch from a Windows-based PC to the Macintosh platform.

Mac shipments have jumped 43 and then 35 percent in the past two quarters, which Wolf says was likely "driven chiefly by Windows users buying Macs." He says that assuming Mac sales would have been pretty much flat without the iPod's help, about 200,000 switchers bought a Mac in each of the past two quarters.

Wolf also said he expected sales growth to exceed 45 percent this quarter.

This pace is much higher than Wolf's previous forecast in November 2004. At that time, Wolf expected a half a million Windows users would switch over the entire year. However, now it appears more than just the iPod is causing consumers to consider an Apple computer.

"The most obvious reason is the virus epidemic that has invaded Windows PCs. Clearly, some Windows users bought Macs to escape it," he argued.

And Apple would be very happy to hear Wolf's predictions for next year. "Assuming an 11 percent switching rate, our model has these users purchasing over 1.2 million Macs in calendar 2006, about 700,000 more than in 2005."

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