Leopard Sales Outpace Tiger, Business Use Up

operating system

In its first month on the market sales of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple's Leopard operating systems, or Mac OS 10.5, outpaced its Mac OS 10.4, dubbed Tiger, by 32.8 percent in dollar volume and 20.5 percent in unit volume, according to NPD's U.S. retail point of sale data, said Chris Swenson, director, software industry analysis for the Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm.

The data includes sales of the operating system sold at retail but not copies sold within new Mac desktop or notebook computers. The data does include family packs of 5 licenses. Family pack sales were up compared to Tiger with 32.8 percent of Leopard sales coming from family packs compared to 20.4 percent of Tiger unit sales.

While sales of Leopard topped Tiger's initial sales, Tiger had seen a 30 percent rise over Panther, Mac OS 10.3. Tiger sales were up about 100 percent over Mac OS 10.2, known as the Jaguar reease.

"It's really stunning to see Apple have one blow-out OS launch after another," said Swenson.

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While Swenson attributes dollar and unit volume growth to a November holiday-season launch and Apple's proliferation of retail stores, "with every new OS outperforming previous versions, it's clear that Apple has hit upon the right strategy for rolling out new versions of its OS."

Michael Oh, CEO of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple specialist, said that Leopard sales have been outpacing Tiger sales and that the OS, combined with the launch earlier this year of Adobe's Creative Suite 3, and more stylish, sophisticated Intel-based Macs have helped drive both the client and server operating systems deeper into the business world.

"We've definitely been seeing the same and I think partially it's timing," said Oh. "There's this convergence of the end of the year buying spree that corporations a do and with budgets in corporations. We are selling quite a few Leopard upgrades both on the server side and on the client side to work groups in large companies trying to burn their budgets."

His customers are looking to make the upgrade to Leopard, he said, and the question comes down to whether they'd like to squeeze the upgrade into 2007 or if it's something to roll out in 2008. The Mac mystique is fading in businesses and the Leopard OS isn't threatening to new users who have done upgrades of home Macs.

"We have seen in 2007 a lot more interest in companies that would be more traditionally PC or at the very least are hybrid PC/Mac companies looking at completely switching over to all-Mac environments as well as switching over from PCs to Macs. Definitely there's more interest on the business side," said Oh.

"We're selling Leopard Server. I think that's actually one of the surprises," Oh said. Customers are interested because of the calendar sharing component, which he called "very [Microsoft] Exchange-like", and that more business users are taking a look at Leopard Server than had purchased Tiger Server.

The Leopard OS launch has also helped spur sales of Mac hardware.

"A lot of design companies haven't really jumped on board with all the latest updates, but now that Leopard is out and CS3 is out, they see it as a good time to both upgrade old machines and to commit to Intel-based architecture to update those machines," said Oh.

"Obviously Apple is very good with their laptop line," he said. In sectors like finance which have previously not been Apple strongholds, demand is increasing because of Apple's MacBook design and the ability to run Windows and Windows-only software through Boot Camp and Parallels software. "It certainly has a little bit of that cache of being a Mac laptop and if you're meeting with a bunch of Dell and Sony users it definitely looks like the best laptop on the market."