When the Microsoft (MSFT)-powered PC industry became bogged down under the weight of Windows Vista and virtual pounds of bloatware and spyware, Apple Macs hit their stride as a sleek, simple, bug-free alternative. But today, thanks to a more stable Windows 7 operating system that borrows some good looks from Apple, PCs aren't so bad anymore. The rush to convert to Macs has quieted down thanks in part to a bevy of improved PCs.
Apple's market share slipped slightly in the fourth quarter to 7.5% from the 7.7% level it held in the year-ago period, according to Gartner. A big hurdle to Apple's mass market success is its incompatibility with PC software, but an even bigger barrier is the shocking contrast in prices. You can buy two PCs for the price of one Mac. According to Technology Business Research, the average Mac goes for $1,309, while the average PC goes for $570.