Mac OS 8 sales on fire

Apple says sales for the recently released Mac OS 8 have exceeded expectations by fourfold.

3 min read
Apple Computer (AAPL) Macworld
saga says sales for the recently released Mac OS 8 have exceeded expectations by fourfold.

Since the product's July 26 release, over 1.2 million copies have been sold, giving the operating system the most successful sales performance ever for an Apple software product, the company says.

Ironically, this buying frenzy is taking place without any participation from the most vigorous players in the Macintosh market right now, the clone vendors. Given the popularity of the product, Macintosh clone manufacturers Motorola, Umax Computer Group, and Power Computing are eager to ship systems with Mac OS 8.

The clone makers have been wrangling with Apple over how much they should pay to license the new operating system and have not yet signed formal contracts. The companies might soon start shipping the OS based on prior licensing agreements, however. (See related story)

Nevertheless, copies are leaping off of the shelves. "We sold 2,000 copies in the first four days. It's probably the fastest-selling product we've ever had...Between that, the Microsoft announcement, and the board realignment, it's the best week Apple's had from a public relations perspective in a long while," says Darryl Peck, president and CEO of Cyberian Outpost, one of the largest Internet retailers of computer-related products.

Mac OS 8's success comes at a critical point for Apple, as the company attempts to reshape itself and rebuild consumer confidence in its product lines.

In the meantime, retail stores are also benefiting from increased sales.

"It's the best-selling new product we've ever had. We sold 3,500 copies since it was first released. In the first four days, we were selling a copy a minute," said Jeff Walker, vice president of retail sales at ComputerWare, the nation's largest independent Mac dealer.

The new software has had the positive side-effect of raising customers' interest in Mac and Mac-compatible systems while they are in the store.

"It has boosted traffic in stores. Over the first weekend of its release, we had triple the normal traffic, and we are still experiencing heavier-than-normal summer traffic," Walker said. As an added benefit, ComputerWare experienced increased memory sales along with sales of the new OS.

Among the most noticeable features, the new system's user interface reduces screen clutter when many applications and files are being displayed at once.

The new OS also has a multi-threaded finder that allows users to copy chunks of data while performing other tasks. Previously, users had to wait for file functions to finish before doing other tasks. Apple says it has also worked to increase the stability of the system software--a program suddenly quitting won't force a restart--and the speed of functions such as copying files.

At the Macworld Expo in Boston, consumer demand for the new operating system has been equally high, according to the two computer retailers selling it there. On the first two days of the convention, ComputerTown sold over 800 copies at its booth, and "could have sold more" if they hadn't run out of stock, according to Tim Reinold, director of retail sales for the Boston-based computer store chain. "It's helped make the show a success for ComputerTown."

Sales from ComputerTown's retail stores have also been phenomenal. "When we first got copies, we had lines out the door," recalled Reinold. "I think it's going to be successful for the next three to four months, until the next version of the Mac OS comes out." Today, on the last day of the show, ComputerTown was bringing in 1,800 extra copies to help fulfill demand.

MicroCenter, the other major retail vendor selling Mac OS 8 at the expo, has completely sold out its stock. The new software is selling "much, much faster" than Mac OS 7.6.1, the previous major release, according to Andrew Parker, acting general manager of MicroCenter. The show is also fueling sales of Mac-related products at the company's local stores, noted Parker.

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