The incredible shrinking Mac

The Mac accounted for 86% of Apple’s revenue in 2000. Today that’s less than 10%.

From Felix Richter’s “The Mac Plays a Supporting Role at Apple” posted Wednesday on

Confirming earlier reports, Apple unveiled the long-rumored new 16-inch MacBook Pro on Wednesday. The first major update to the MacBook Pro line in three years features a slightly bigger and sharper screen than its 15-inch predecessor, adding louder speakers, better microphones and an improved keyboard to the mix. Starting at $2,399, the 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a similar price tag as the 15-inch version that it’s going to replace. The fact that the new member of the MacBook family was announced rather unceremoniously via press release speaks volumes of the role that the Mac is playing at Apple in 2019: a supporting role to the main act – the iPhone.

In the recently ended fiscal year 2019, the company formerly known as Apple Computer generated $25.74 billion in revenue selling what it was originally named after: computers. And while that makes Apple’s Mac business of 2019 roughly four times as large as it was at the turn of the century, selling laptops and desktop computers has never been less important to the company’s overall success as it currently is. Mac sales may have quadrupled over the past two decades, but Apple’s total sales increased more than 30-fold over the same period.

Apple Mac incredible shrinking
My take: You may ride a bicycle, you may drive a car, but we haven’t grown out of our need for trucks.


  1. Fred Stein said:

    yeah but..

    Felix misses another key role. The Mac (truck line) including the big 16 wheeler version helps developers and creatives build amazing Apps and other stuff that we consume on all Apple devices. That includes the the development work done by Apple employees. Take that away, and the show folds.

    While we’re on this movie role metaphor, from Cider House Rules: (about respecting your elders…)
    (whispers excitedly
    to Jack)
    You don’t wanna go in the knife
    business with Mistuh Rose–just say
    you’re in the *apple* business, Jack!

    (to Mr. Rose)
    What business are *you* in?

    We never see Mr. Rose’s knife. We see the men circle each
    other: Jack takes a swipe at Mr. Rose’s head–then he steps
    back, his yellow slicker slashed open. His slicker is opened
    up, right up the middle. His shirt underneath the slicker is
    slashed open, too–he feels his bare chest and stomach,
    feeling for the cut. But there’s no cut–Jack’s not bleeding,
    he’s not even scratched. Just his clothes have been slashed.

    MR. ROSE
    I’m in the *knife* business, Jack.
    You don’t wanna go in the knife
    business with me.

    November 13, 2019
  2. David Emery said:

    It would be interesting, though, to see the total dollar value for Mac business over the same timeframe, plotted against Apple’s growth (and also some of Apple’s competitors.) My guess is the story would be “Macs are growing more slowly than other parts of Apple’s business. But the Mac business is growing with, or faster than, competitors in that particular segment.” It would be good to be proven right (or wrong…)

    November 13, 2019
    • Gregg Thurman said:

      The Mac accounted for 86% of Apple’s revenue in 2000. Today that’s less than 10%.

      It would be interesting, though, to see the total dollar value for Mac business over the same timeframe

      I can’t give you an exact time frame (my personal database only goes back to 2005), but here’s what I have.

      FY2005 Mac Revenue: $7.450 Billion
      FY2019 Mac Revenue: $23.376 Billion.

      Mac revenue grew by ~245% during the period. Percentage of Company revenue shrank by about ~83%.

      November 14, 2019
  3. David Drinkwater said:

    It is mind-bending how perfectly good data can be twisted to tell a story.

    Felix Richter Is wearing the emperor’s new clothes.

    I think he’s both a fool and a liar. Nothing new to see here.

    PS I was hoping that “shrinking” was a reference to bezel and screen size.

    November 13, 2019
  4. Greg Bates said:

    I am not happy. Apple used to sell things “that work”, but has taken to bundling that feature initially only with high end models.

    Apple’s least expensive Air starts at $1099 with the problematic butterfly keyboard. But if you want a keyboard that just works, our only choice is a Macbook Pro starting at $2399. Paying an extra $1300 is a bit steep.

    Apple started pulling this trick with the iPad. To get a pencil that “just works” we are forced to buy the iPad Pro starting at $799.which is the only one compatible with the second generation pencil. If we get the iPad Mini, starting at $399–half what the pro models start at–we have to then go with the problematic 1st gen pencil whose charging is a hassle and prone to break.

    Sure, the magic keyboard and 2nd gen pencil will eventually migrate down the device chain. But “just works” starts out being available ONLY to those paying top dollar.

    Apple commands top dollar for the best and I’m fine with that. But pushing people up the ladder by offering things that don’t work below the top rung feels like a cheap trick that goes against the grain of “treating customers like jewels”, as Tim’s phrase goes.

    November 14, 2019
  5. Adam Foster said:

    Ordered fully loaded MacBook Pro yesterday… be here in a week!
    My brother ordered one too!

    November 14, 2019

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