What is going on? […] The best theory I’ve heard is: “Windows Vista.” When people found out they’d have to buy a new computer and learn a new interface, a certain slice of them just said, “Well, if I have to buy a new machine and learn a new interface, I may as well get the cool-looking, virus-free one.”
He discounts crapware and the iPod effect, saying their effects would have been seen much earlier. I disagree: technology journalists probably replace their computers a lot more frequently than most people. Someone truly sick of Windows’ problems (which aren’t just Microsoft’s fault, but that of the entire Windows software and user community) could still be using an XP computer they bought in 2001. After all, hardware of that era (1.33 GHz Athlons, early Pentium 4s) is still in common use.
Another effect could explain much of it: true viral marketing. Most people use whatever the people around them use. Few will risk deviation. Most people don’t use Macs because they’ve never seen them and don’t know anything about them (or they know only what was true about them back when they sucked).
But when someone buys a Mac, it opens the eyes of the people around them. They start asking questions and they see how easy and simple it is. The seed of Windows doubt is planted. And every time they get frustrated by their computers (a daily occurrence for normal people), that seed grows, because they’ve learned of an alternative.
Eventually, their perception of Macs changes from “I don’t know or care what those are” to “I want one.” And at that point, the only thing stopping them is cost. It’s not if they’ll buy a Mac, but when.
Once their PC dies, or they’ve set aside enough money, they switch.