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Apple's Mac market share rise is good for consumers

According to a new study, Apple may gain a significant share of the computing market in the coming months. And as Don Reisinger points out, if Apple continues to gain market share, all consumers will win.

According to a recent study by research firm ChangeWave, Apple's Macintosh line of computers is well on its way to gaining a sizable portion of the computing market in the coming months.

Polling customers about their computer buying preferences over the next 90 days, ChangeWave Research found that 29 percent of respondents claimed they would be buying a Mac over that period, while 24 percent will buy HP desktops and 31 percent will buy Dell desktops.

Amazingly, just two years ago, only 16 percent of respondents indicated that they would plan on buying a Mac notebook, while 11 percent claimed they would buy a Mac desktop.

But perhaps most important, Tobin Smith, founder of ChangeWave pointed out that, "these are not just the Mac-heads who are buying." And most consumers (24 percent) are choosing Macs because of Leopard and their distaste for Vista.

And while there are still quite a few fanatics out there who wouldn't buy a Mac just because it's made by Apple, I firmly believe an increase in Apple market share is not just good for Apple, it's good for all consumers too.

After all, if Apple brings innovation and progress to the industry, wouldn't it force other companies to do the same?

Suffice it to say, Apple is the world's best trend setter. And a world where Apple is commanding such a large portion of the market could be quite appealing to all of us.

Do you remember the days of ugly computers and downright ridiculous hardware? You know the products I'm talking about: beige towers sitting under your desk while a 13-inch monitor with a crappy resolution stares back at you. Even better, do you remember how vanilla most cell phones were? More often than not, technology wasn't a fashionable item--it was a necessity or a toy for geeks.

Apple iPhone
The iPhone under glass. Declan McCullagh/CNET

And while most of the change cannot be attributed to Apple, I truly believe that Apple was a major reason why technology has become "cool." Think about it: before Apple started changing the way products were designed and it finally realized that technology goes far beyond specs, most companies were content with homely devices. Nowadays, if a product is downright ugly (did someone say "Kindle"?), most people will laugh and move along. After all, would anyone have bought an iPhone if it looked like the old Motorola StarTac?

But beyond looks, Apple's gain in market share is extremely important for the industry. Apple not only knows how to be successful in this ever-changing industry, it has forced other companies like Dell, HP and now Motorola, Nokia and LG to find new and innovative ways to bring customers to their doorsteps.

Sure, there is little chance of Apple overtaking HP or Dell next year in overall computer market share, but the company certainly has the possibility to do it in five years. A long shot you say? Think again: people are becoming more and more enticed by Apple products and with the perfect storm developing with Dell's outright tailspin and Microsoft's costly Vista blunder, the next decade could be Apple's.

But as Apple's market share continues to rise and its dominance over the MP3 player market continues to soar, how can other companies combat it? Certainly the company's competitors cannot maintain status quo, so a new endeavor of market research and gaining customer loyalty through downright fantastic products should evolve out of Apple's success.

And if and when we hit that critical point, perhaps finally there won't be just one Apple--there will be dozens. And if this industry follows Apple's path of innovative products that look good, the real victors will be you and I.

So regardless of whether you love Apple or not, realize one thing: greater consumer happiness hinges on Apple's success.