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Mac users may be getting soft on Windows machines as time moves on, according to a recent report by consumer research firm NPD Group. It found that of those polled, a whopping 85 percent admitted to owning both Mac and Windows PC computers. That’s a far […]

npd-group-march09Mac users may be getting soft on Windows machines as time moves on, according to a recent report by consumer research firm NPD Group. It found that of those polled, a whopping 85 percent admitted to owning both Mac and Windows PC computers.

That’s a far cry from the polarized days of yore, when even joking that you had a Windows PC, even if you actually did, would get you banned from the local Mac user group. But is the reason less die-hard Mac heads, or more PC users flirting with and even giving comfort to the enemy?

The stat was one of the headliners of NPD Group’s dubiously named “2009 Household Penetration Study,” which was released yesterday. PC World lists the details of the report, which includes statistics regarding the presence of PCs and Macs in U.S. households.

Mac ownership is up to 12 percent from only 8 percent in 2008, a 4 percent increase over the course of only one year. A lot of those new Mac owners probably aren’t in the habit of throwing away perfectly good computers, even if they are Windows machines, which could account for some of that 85 percent.

The study also found that Mac owners are unusually covetous of gadgetry. Two-thirds of Mac-owning households have three or more computers, and they also generally own at least twice as many electronic devices as the average PC owner. Specifically, Apple fans generally own 48 gadgets vs. the average of 24. Finally, I can tell my friends and family that what they think is a tech addiction is actually par for the course among people with Mac love.

npd_studyApple owners are also much more likely to go mobile, with 72 percent going with a notebook, vs. only 60 percent in Windows households. Sort of explains why the Starbucks window always looks like a Macbook showroom.

By comparison, the number of Windows PC households that have more than three computers stands at only 36 percent, which is almost three times less than their Mac counterparts. If I was in Windows marketing, I’d probably ask why Mac users feel that they need more than three computers to do the same work as just one or two of their PC equivalents. I suspect the real reason has more to do with Mac users loving their computers as objects, independent of what they can do with them.

So I feel pretty pigeonholed following this report. I own five computers, one of which is a PC, and at least 48 gadgets are scattered around my apartment. I also own three notebooks. Anyone else feel like the nail being hit on the head after reading this?

  1. You could look at it that way, or you could also look at it as 15% of PC users also have a Mac. :-)

    Well I’m proud to say that I have not owned a PC for about 8 years. I used to be a big MS fan, and even worked for Microsoft, but always had a soft spot for Macs. As soon as I could afford a Mac I switched and have never looked back. In fact now I own 3 Mac desktops of various ages, and a PowerBook G4.

    Of course I may not own a PC, but I do still occasionally have to run Windows. There is still some software that just does not have an equivalent on the Mac (in this case the software for an energy monitor), and so if I want that data I *have* to run Windows. On that virtual PC (Sun VirtualBox) I run an ancient copy of Windows XP that I originally bought for my old, now banished PC. I don’t ever plan to upgrade the OS except for free updates, unless the software I need no longer runs on XP. I’d say that I use Mac OS X 99.5% of the time and once a week for about 10 minutes I use XP.

    If I could get rid of Windows all together it would be even better.

    And perhaps this is why the figure of 85% seems so high. There may be people like me who hardly use Windows, but technically do still use it. Then there may be switchers who just haven’t gotten rid of their PC, but don’t necessarily use it. There could be some who use both just as much, perhaps for work purposes, and I suppose there could be some who have a Mac but don’t use it much. The point being that in my opinion the only way to determine market share of Macs is purely by how many were sold in a year compared to the past.

    - Craig

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  2. No PC’s in my household….not ever. Used Apple/Mac since Lisa and it was always about portability, function and the pleasure of use. Not having to constantly ask for help, returning for repair, or being functionally embarrassed is important. We buy the most powerful desktop for my bride and laptop for me that we need, and keep their software up to date until they fail. So my bride loves her PowerMac G4 Quicksilver and I’m typing on my MBP 17 here on the couch with the cat on my left foot. (He has a fetish). We also have 2 older video iPods which we use in home and the cars, and an iPod shuffle for hiking…. :-)

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  3. Count me in a a 15 percenter.

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  4. Damn, just read the article again and forgot to comment on this part:

    “By comparison, the number of Windows PC households that have more than three computers stands at only 36 percent, which is almost three times less than their Mac counterparts. If I was Windows marketing, I’d probably ask why Mac users feel that they need more than three computers to do the same work as just one or two of their PC equivalent. I suspect the real reason has more to do with Mac users loving their computers as objects, independent of what they can do with them.”

    Well as I said I own 3 desktops and one notebook. Ok, technically I only have 2 desktops and a notebook at my home. The other desktop is an old iMac that now lives at my parents-in-law’s house. It’s still mine, but they use it. I replaced their old PC when it started giving problems and they commented when I first took it there that it was much easier to operate than their old PC (that was running Windows ME).

    The desktops I have at home are a Mac mini G4, which acts as my lounge computer and plays music, does browsing only etc. The other is my main computer, a 24″ iMac with a 20″ cinema display attached. My notebook is a PowerBook G4 that is starting to need replacing. When I do, I plan to upgrade both my desktop and the notebook with one 17″ MacBook Pro, which I will use with my 20″ display, and the 24″ iMac will effectively become my TV/Media centre.

    I’ve had more Macs that have come and gone, like the old handbag iBook, a G4 Cube and a G4 Titanium PowerBook, all except the PowerBook were sold and I presume are still running. The PowerBook died and required a new mainboard.

    I think people keep their Macs, because they last longer. They still want the new stuff, but the old stuff is still working acceptably. In fact the old iMac G4 that is at my parents-in-law still feels fairly zippy and it’s running OS X 10.5.8. Ok it could be a bit faster, but for mail and browsing it is perfectly acceptable.

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  5. I suspect that this statistic is due to the number of Windows users who are now switching to a Mac, rather than Mac users starting to collect Windows machines.
    A more interesting statistic would be to know how many long-time Windows users also have a Mac.

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  6. I’m 15 percenter, but only because that’s what my job gives me. Its real value is that of a paper weight.

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  7. Keep in mind the three machine statistic is for a household. Odds are, people have some sort of desktop Mac (Mac mini/iMac) set up to replace the old shared PC, then they bought a laptop. And once someone has a laptop, everyone has to have a laptop.

    I’ve seen it several times now, where the husband buys a Mac laptop, to only then give it to his wife and buy another one. Add a kid old enough to have their own system, and you hit 3 easily.

    PC users less likely to have 3? Sure. Most common households have so many issues with the one PC that having another would just be more trips to the Geek Squad desk to clean out the malware. Yes, I know it’s easy for tech people here to protect their Windows boxes with a mix of common sense and malware protection, but most common PC owners don’t know about the problems and how to protect against them.

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  8. “Mac ownership is up to 12 percent from only eight in 2008, a four percent increase over the course of only one year.”

    Not sure where you took your statistics class, but that’s a 50% increase according to just about anybody.

    As for the 85% number, I suppose I fall into that category since I ‘own’ a windows machine, but as a 3yr old switcher, it’s sitting in my closet unused. A far more useful stat would have been not about ownership, but about actual use…

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  9. I’m in there too. I have a PC to power my television.

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  10. Are these separate PC’s or are Mac owners stating that their Apple computer is both a Mac and a PC, because that is how I look at it. I frequently boot in to Windows to run my Garmin MobilePC software, or check my PPt presentations are Windows compatible. The rest of the time I use Fusion.

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