Analysts: One Million PC Users Switch to Macs

Pc users are converting to Macintosh computers in growing numbers, thanks in part to the stunning success of the Apple iPod.

"The 'halo effect' is clearly alive and well," said Charles Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co.

Since the beginning of this year, more than 1 million Windows users bought Mac computers for the first time, according to Wolf, a veteran Apple watcher.

That's double his estimate of 500,000 a year ago. Of those, Wolf estimated that 90 percent would upgrade to another Mac.

Analysts say the iPod personal music — and now video — device is spreading its glow over Apple's personal computers, once the province of hipsters and technophiles.

"Apple has attracted a much larger audience for its personal computers due to the success of the iPod," said Steve Lidberg, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities. "There are definitely a lot of people who are joining the Mac ecosystem for the first time."

Over the last several years, Mac sales growth has been largely stagnant, while the overall personal computer market has grown, causing Apple's market share to shrink.

But over the last several quarters, as Apple has wowed the market with new iPods, Mac sales have jumped, reaching 48 percent year-over-year growth in the latest quarter.

If Mac shipments continue to grow as the iPod lures increasing numbers of Windows users, Wolf believes that Apple's PC market share could double from 2 percent to 4 percent within a decade.

Despite, or perhaps because of, Apple's blockbuster year, the company's share price has doubled. With almost 30 million iPods sold, Apple has an enormous opportunity to "cross-market" to the legions of new iPod users.

Other factors helping to propel Mac sales include increased anxiety over security vulnerabilities in Windows machines, which have been afflicted by ever-more sophisticated and damaging Internet viruses.

Apple's next big announcement is expected to be the rollout of the first Mac computers using processors made by Intel, whose chips already power many Windows machines.

That could lead to Apple desktops that can run both Mac and Windows operating systems, opening vast new markets to Apple.

"Apple is only in the early stages of its assault on the digital living room," said UBS analyst Benjamin A. Reitzes.