updated 07:25 pm EDT, Fri April 22, 2011
PC users are from Mars, Mac users from Venus
An unscientific survey conducted by the survey and recommendation website Hunch.com has reinforced some data already broadly known about Mac people versus Windows people -- and also shown up some surprising differences and similarities. The website used answers from over 300,000 respondents on this latest survey, and also compared the answers to a similar match-up it did in November 2009. One clear result: Apple's casting of younger, more casual Justin Long as a Mac and John Hodgman as the stuffier, older PC in the long-running "Mac and PC" ads was no accident.
The survey began by asking people if they considered themselves "Mac" people or "PC" people. Of the 388,315 users who answered, 52 percent self-identified as PC people (a very slight increase from the 2009 poll, where 50 percent exactly identified themselves as such) and 25 percent called themselves Mac people (almost the same as in 2009). Another 23 percent chose "Neither," which was also taken to represent that they didn't see themselves in that way regardless of what platform they used (and of course, many people use both platforms).
Of the 299,000 people who identified with one platform or the other, Hunch then cross-referenced those respondents with other questions they had answered as part of a more general survey the website does in order to make media recommendations. The data suggests things many Mac owners broadly knew: that they see themselves as hip, liberal, verbally-oriented, more adventurous and more creative, while PC people see themselves as very mainstream, conservative (in the general sense of the term, not just politically), math-oriented and less comfortable overall with computers and technology.
These strong separations of self-perception -- suggestive of left-brain versus right-brain dominance patterns -- may be the root of why the two groups tend to look at each other in such critical lights. From a PC person's perspective, Mac users can seem trendy, shallow, arrogant or pretentious -- the favourite soft drink picked by Mac users was San Pellegrino Limonata, while the PC users chose Pepsi -- and from a Mac person's view, PC users tend to be rigid, close-minded, conformist and boring.
This broad trend continued in almost every cultural area: PC users prefer Hollywood movies, Mac users like indie films better; Mac users are 80 percent more likely to be vegetarian; PC users prefer Harleys to Vespas by 70 percent; PC users love the cute captioned cats of I Can Haz Cheezburger, while Mac users get their smiles from Boing Boing; and while both group consider jeans a mainstay clothing item, PC people make them a clear favorite, while Mac people tend to prefer "retro" or designer duds.
The survey also found that Mac users are better educated (67 percent of Mac users completed a four-year degree, while only 54 percent of PC users did so), more liberal (58 versus 36 percent), more urban (52 percent said they live in a city while PC users tended to live in rural or suburban areas) and younger (18-34 demographic) than their PC counterparts (who tended to be more in the 35-49 demographic).
PC users, the survey found, like fitting in over "making their own mark" (twice as often as Mac users); prefer staying at home to "partying"; enjoy mainstream TV shows (such as "The Tonight Show") and TV channels (The History Channel, Syfy, USA) much more than Mac users (who tend towards edgier shows like "Parks and Recreation" and channels like Bravo, Showtime and HBO); they prefer to be "later adopters" of technology and are twice as likely to find it a "struggle" that's akin to learning a foreign language, and PC users tend to stick with well-established brands in everything from restaurants to painters, while Mac users bent towards the newer, more fashionable trends.
Since Hutch.com itself might be thought of as a "trendy, hip" or maybe "pretentious" site, it would by its nature tend to draw an audience of people comfortable and engaged with technology and related topics, which may also have skewed the results in a more liberal direction. PC users picked their favorite newscast as MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" followed by PBS' "News Hour" and ABC's "20/20"; Mac users said they get their news from "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" and "60 Minutes."
In some areas, however, Mac people and PC people tend to concur. When asked what was the funniest TV show on the air currently, both groups picked "The Office" (though Mac users were more definitive on this point; PC people also strongly liked "South Park"). Both groups enjoy classic literature alongside newer books, both tended to pick The New York Times as their favorite newspaper (though PC people were more split, also liking USA Today), and there was only a marginal difference between the two groups in favorite snacks (PC people slightly prefer sweet over salty, Mac users the opposite).
The one area of the poll that drew almost identical levels of agreement was on the question of the value of "Mac versus PC" arguments: both groups by a wide margin said such discussions were "utterly pointless" (43 percent Mac versus 50 percent PC), and in both groups only a slim number called them "invigorating and important" (14 percent Mac, eight percent PC). [via Hunch.com]