According to a survey reported in Investor’s Business Daily, the long-term uptick in Apple’s Macintosh market share is continuing. Based on the work of ChangeWave Research, they say that 29% of likely notebook and desktop PC buyers in the next 90 days are planning to get a Mac. That’s a number in the same neighborhood as likely HP and Dell purchases, and should be enough to dismiss any continued perception of the Mac as being some squirrely niche platform only for overly sensitive graphics artists.
While that’s certainly a nice number if you’re an Apple stockholder or current Mac owner, should it matter to web workers? Of course we’ve noted before that the Mac makes an excellent platform for mobile workers, and in communities from graphics design to Rails software development it’s already ubiquitous. But I think the upside of this news for we in the web work world goes much deeper than this.
First, there’s a benefit to this continuing sales increase for those of us who have already made the switch to Mac. Each additional few percent of market share decreases the chance of seeing more products like the Plantronics Calisto Pro – which we pronounced the “web worker’s dream phone” except for its unfortunate Windows-only requirement. At some point, one hopes, the market will be mass enough that it becomes impossible to ignore.
But beyond that selfish outlook, I think the breaking of the Windows monoculture is good for anyone whose work depends on the web simply because it increases the share of web browsers that are not Internet Explorer. Whether Mac users stick with the built-in Safari or install Firefox or another alternative, they’re not reading the web with IE. I don’t think the current IE is an especially bad browser – they all have their quirks – but web sites that are written for IE’s quirks tend to have issues on other browsers. Having a robust ecosystem of multiple browsers encourages web designers to build sites with good cross-browser compatibility. And that in turn increases the chance that you, as a web worker, can sit down to any computer, regardless of its operating system or browser, and find that your essential web-based tools just work. We’re not there yet, by a long shot, but more Mac and Linux marketshare is an essential part of moving us in that direction.