Tracking Desktop Sales Numbers
scottalanmiller last edited by scottalanmiller
So in another discussion we were talking about what operating systems constitute what percentage of the "market." This, of course, brings up loads of questions such as "do we mean which are sold? which are deployed? which are used? What constitutes usage? How are dual boot systems classified? How do we even track any of this after we define what we mean?"
It's a crazy difficult question to even ask, let alone try to answer.
So let's start with some numbers... it is estimated that worldwide since 2015, the industry sells about 250 - 350 million computers per year to end users.
Raspberry Pi sells around 8-10 million units a year. Apple sells around 18 million Macs a year. Chromebooks overtook Macs by 2016, so while numbers are harder to track down, that means roughly 19+ million Chromebooks sold per year.
There are so many variables involved, it's nearly impossible to figure out what anyone is working from. And just because a computer is sold as something, doesn't mean it continues to be that thing. For example, Macs are commonly used to run Windows, not macOS, and can be, but rarely are, used for Linux. Raspberry Pi can't run macOS, but can run Windows IoT, but we assume it all but never does.
So here is one question... I know @gjacobse dual boots Linux and Windows. How does his machine get counted? Even if we knew all his details, does he count has a half point for Linux and a half point for Windows?
And that ignores the bigger problem of "how do we find out what he runs in the first place?" Because there is no mechanism for collecting that data.
When we look at OS comparison charts, they don't seem to track what we know about hardware sales. For example, we know that roughly 10% of all hardware sold per year, year over year, only effectively runs Linux. And that a maximum of about 7% of hardware sold can run macOS, and that much of that hardware is not used to run macOS.
Yet when we look at OS charts, they tend to show macOS with a huge market share much larger than that of Linux, when we know Linux shipments have to be at least 50% larger and are easily many times that. So something is definitely wrong in how data is being collected.
Then take one of my machines. It doesn't dual boot, but it does have three disks that I can swap to boot different things. In this case, all Linux, but how do we count it? Three machines? One, but split between three different flavours? It's complex as any system tracking usage would see it as three unique machines.
The virtualization... do we only count hypervisors, or do we count the VMs? Or only the VMs? My desktop has full VMs that are used as if they are completely separate machines. How do we count them?
How do we count VDI, Terminal Servers, Thin Clients, etc?