A Tale of Two OSes: Vista vs. Mac OS X

While book sales are far from comprehensive as a technology trend indicator, they can provide insight into consumer enthusiasm for new products. We’ve been eagerly awaiting enough data on sales of Microsoft Vista books to see what they tell us about the market’s enthusiasm for the product. The graph below shows the Bookscan data on sales of books on Vista vs. Windows XP. As you can see, XP books continue to sell strongly despite the fact that Vista now is the dominant Windows OS.

windows xp book sales vs. windows vista

Now compare the uptake of Mac OS X Tiger vs. Panther, and see how quickly the new version completely overtook the old:

Mac OS X Tiger book sales vs. Panther

We can compare the two more precisely by aligning the first six months of each product’s release on a single graph. (Note, though, that Vista had a staggered release, with a release to corporate customer the end of November and to consumers the end of February. Tiger was released at the end of April 2005.) The graph below lines up the consumer release of Vista with the Tiger release:

windows and MacOS versions on the same graph

As you can see, Mac OS X Tiger almost completely replaced Panther in the book marketplace after only two months, while after six months, Windows XP books are still selling at a significant clip, almost 50% of the rate of books on Vista. It’s also worth noting that despite the reported 3-5% PC market share of Macs, the volume of Mac OS X books sold for Tiger at the peak after the release is about one third the volume of the Vista peak.

Meanwhile, sales of books on the new versions of Office have still not surpassed sales of earlier versions, despite having peaked, as shown in the graph below:

Graph of Office book sales by version


Reader Dan Zambonini pointed out the similarities in the Google Trend search for Windows versions, where searches for Vista peaked above searches for XP, but now have fallen back below it: