Are Mac Owners More Pretentious?

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Being a (very) recent convert to the World of Mac, it is with great interest that I read a provocative report by Mindset Media comparing the behavior of Mac-owners vs. PC-owners--specifically, who was snobbier? Mindset surveyed 7500 Mac and PC-owners and found that Mac users were more self-important, intellectually curious, and felt themselves to be extraordinary and superior. Mac users are more likely to use teeth-whitening kits (vanity!), buy organic food, be politically liberal, be willing to pay more for green technology, buy a hybrid car, drink Starbucks, and have bought more than 5 new pairs of sneakers in the past year. People who described themselves as having an "open personality" were 60% more likely to own a Mac. 60% of Mac users vs only 16% of PC users downloaded music last year, and paid for it.


So there seems to be some positive and negative things about the 'Mac Mindset.' But, that being said, Mac owners are more satisfied with their purchases than PC owners (70% vs 59%, respectively). Count me in that 70%, but I'd rather avoid being called an over-caffeinated, bleached-teeth self-important hippie perfectionist if I can help it. Oh wait....

Via The Anxious Educator, hat tip Kendra.

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It's self-selection at work. Intelligent people realize macs are better and buy them. They realize how great a choice they made every time one of their pc friends gets a virus, or has Windows crash over and over, etc. So they feel superior. And because macs don't really need service, they can afford more Starbucks and (sneakers?).

What's with that 30%?

They're wrong about one thing (at least). We don't drink Starbucks. We frequent the small independent coffee houses with organic, bird-friendly, fair trade espresso like the one at the end of this post.

Most of these surveys are done by those who want to justify their use of Windows and other things Microsoftic. I have seen twenty five years of this kind of crap from "independent" surveyors.

I consider myself neutral. I work with a couple labs, where one uses PCs and another uses Macs, and I've actually had more problems with the Macs than the PCs, mostly due to Matlab-related crashes. The windows comp also seems better at interfacing with an external drive and some other hardware. OSX clearly as a lot of advantages, but saying "Intelligent people realize macs are better and buy them" isn't right... it depends on your environment and purposes.

A PC is better than a Mac - for some things.
A Mac is better than a PC - for some things.

Horses for courses really. And I'm inclined to believe that anyone claiming Mac's never crash, get viruses or have hardware failures has either never used one or has drunk deeply from the koolaid. :p

And interestingly, my personal experience is that PC users are much more snobby, at least about their PCs. They claim Mac users are snobby and then display incredible amounts of elitism themselves. Though i'm not sure you can survey for that sort of behaviour.

And then there's Rush Limbaugh on the far end of the curve.

Most of those fit me, except the sneakers, prius and Starbucks (I wear shoes till they die, don't own a car, and there's much better fair-trade coffee available at the grocery store than Starbucks.)

Thing is, I never bought Macs for the "image". The first productive computer my family owned was a Mac Plus, so growing up with them has made it my default setting. I've been using Windows professionally for over a decade though, so I'm always aware of the competition. There have even been a few times where I have seriously considered switching over to Windows (1997 and 2004 come to mind).

In the end though, the hassles of Windows, and the superiority of key pieces of Apple software have kept me coming back. Apple has consistantly been a few years ahead of Windows in graphics, audio and video compatibility and interchangability, vital for an animator trying to put together a demo reel from many different video sources.

These days though, I do have windows on my Mac, for the occasional game. ;D

Hmmm. Mac user since 1984.

- self-important? Not really.
- Intellectually curious? Why else would I be reading this blog?
- extraordinary and superior? Well, maybe a bit above average.
- teeth whitening? - Nope
- organic food? - Grow my own.
- politically liberal? You bet!
- pay more for green tech? Yup.
- hybrid car? Yup.
- Starbucks? Never! (Love coffee, hate dark roast.)
- sneakers? Don't own any. Moccasins rule!
- open personality? Yeah, I guess so.
- download music? Yes. And pay for it.
- satisfied user? Very much so.

And -- a majority of my family and good friends are also Mac users.

(For Brian W: I've never had a single hardware interface problem, including with my 3 current external hard drives, external second monitor, 2 printers, scanner, Airport Extreme wireless router, and digital camera. Everything is just plug and play. I've also never had an Apple internal hard drive crash; in fact, the only Apple hardware problems I've ever had have been with easily fixable power supplies.)

I think Linux users are the most pretentious of the whole lot.

LOL. Well I have to say that as a former PC-user (and defender) the grass really is greener over here. I just wish there was support for Endnote...Any suggestions on that?

"Intelligent people realize macs are better and buy them. "

I would have to disagree with this. It's a matter of preference. There are advantages to owning both a PC and a Mac that have nothing to do with intelligence. People who stick with PCs tend to not mind doing maintinence on their computers and tweaking with the hardware and using tons more 3rd party software. People who don't like doing the technical aspects can avoid it by switching to a Mac. It's easier to use... that's why so many artists use Macs. It's not that the graphics are more superior on a Mac, but with a PC you actually have to upgrade and optimize your hardware to get the same capabilities.

In other words, people who have PCs tend to be more geeky.

This doesn't surprise me at all. I don't think they needed to do a study on this, but I guess it's always good to confirm something that you expected to be true. I'm definitely one of those in between people. My family started as a mac family back in the 80s, but when I went to college I got a PC because no one really had macs. For my job post-college, I used a mac (that was provided for me). For grad school, I've started off with a PC (also provided for me). Mac OS X and beyond is really good (whereas 9 and earlier basically sucked and constantly crashed), so now I might lean "mac" a little. I'm currently pricing out my next computer, which will be a mac. I chose it this time because it can boot in windows and mac OS, so I can use it for all of the purposes and software. I don't own any other apple products like an ipod or an iphone. I definitely like apple, but it's certainly pricey and elitist.

Someone previously said that they thought PC people were more elitist about their PCs. I could definitely see the argument to that, but Mac people are more elitist overall (if not about their computers, about other things.) As for the conjecture that "intelligent people buy macs because they're better", I think that's total B.S. Rich people buy macs because they can afford them, because of the "image" of the computers, and because they have some advantages (that come with a price). Rich people have money left over to buy organic food, sneakers, hybrid cars, etc.

By Katherine (not verified) on 28 Mar 2008 #permalink

Hmmm, I haven't bought a lot of sneakers, but I am politically liberal, drive a hybrid car, am willing to pay a bit more green technologies, and occasionally buy organic food. But I don't consider myself elitist or snobby.

Frankly, I was a PC person until 2002/2003 and back then I prided myself on not falling victim to those lightweight easy-to-use Mac computers with all their sleek pretty features. Real People Used PCs and Suffered Accordingly, in keeping with their Puritan heritage. ("We are Puritans. We make do with what we have.") :) So that's a whole different kind of snobbery. And I definitely suffered from it.

And Katherine? I'm not rich. I'm no longer a starving struggling freelancer in NYC, but I'm not rolling in wads of cash every night either. I just choose to spend my discretionary income on certain things that I think are worth the money... I've worked hard to have that privilege, and I think I'm fairly typical...

Pretentious? Nous?

Katherine's got it: Macs are simply more costly - richer people buy them, and have the money to buy all that other stuff.

Also, early Macs, at least into the early 90s, were as crash prone as any PC, and were so cutesy it was sickening. They also, except for high end ones, had lousy font displays, speaking of which, I can barely read the font displayed in this blog, and wonder if it's my browser or something else - I don't have this problem anywhere else on SciBlogs.

I have to say that I find the photo above unintentionally ironic.

Yep, that poor handicapped guy in a wheelchair is undoubtedly a PC user. Why? Because, strangely enough, the !EvilEmpireMicrosoft does a far better job accommodating the handicapped than either !UserFriendlyApple or !PowerToThePeopleLinux.

I am literally writing this message by hand, using a tablet PC and Vista's amazing handwriting recognition. I'm doing so because I have RSI and using a keyboard and mouse for any length of time hurts.

I LOVE my tablet PC. Using a pen is so much easier and natural than using a mouse. But Apple doesn't make tablets. Recently, a third party has started offering modified Macs as tablets, but Apple's handwriting recognition is a pathetic thing compared to Vista's.

If I were planning to write a longer message, I'd probably switch to speech recognition. There again, the Mac world offers nothing comparable to what's available on a PC. That may change, since I hear that Dragon NaturallySpeaking has been ported to the Mac, albeit in a crippled version currently. No doubt it will improve over time, but I also have no doubt that Microsoft has every intention of improving Vista's native speech recognition, which one gets for free.

The simple fact is, you can use a PC effectively and efficiently without a keyboard or mouse. You can't say the same for an Mac. And, for that reason, count me as a grateful PC user.

I have a PC that I'm quite happy with, what with Macs being expensive and proprietary, but what's this "Windows" thing you're all babbling about? By your descriptions it seems to be some sort of outdated virus-delivery mechanism that you have to pay for. Seems rather daft to me.

Almost as daft is this weird association of Starbucks with snobbish elitism. You may have noticed that Starbucks is, in fact, ubiquitous. It's not some rarified fancy affectation. They have Starbucks outlets inside gas stations, supermarkets, and other Starbucks outlets; there are Starbucks stores in strip malls, hotels, on main streets, high streets and Fifth Avenue. And their coffee is foul. Snobbish elitists don't drink Starbucks.

I've always been a PC+Windows user because I've never been able to justify spending twice as much on a Mac, especially now that the internal components are now pretty much identical. Sure Macs look better than pretty much any PC, but PCs are better value for money, and that's more important to me. As far as operating systems are concerned, I've been happy with XP, disappointed with Vista, and very impressed with Linux (which I've just started using). PC+Linux is, I think the best combination.

As Andrew rightly says though, it's horses for courses. No one solution will be perfect for everyone.

I didn't think my Mac was so much, check out the Apple Store refurbished Macs.

"It's self-selection at work. Intelligent people realize macs are better and buy them. They realize how great a choice they made every time one of their pc friends gets a virus, or has Windows crash over and over, etc. So they feel superior. And because macs don't really need service, they can afford more Starbucks and (sneakers?)."

You know, I like my Mac a lot, but mostly because it's a UNIX machine which has an interface that doesn't suck, and mainstream software associated to it. If OSX wasn't a UNIX variant (which I find incredibly convenient), I would almost certainly use a Windows machine.

That said, there are still plenty of things that suck about Macs. I think the Finder interface should be more customizable; I wish that Apple would figure out how to make applications actually maximize when you click the maximize button; they should still come with AppleWorks; PDF reading in-browser is barely supported and thoroughly broken in Firefox (which is very strange in an OS where PDF graphics are native); the tabs in the Terminal program should be switchable via a hotkey; MacBooks have only one button on the trackpad (and the mouse it comes with only has one button); the USB ports should be on front or side rather than the back of my iMac; the keyboards need to be redesigned to work more like regular keyboards; several other things I can't think of right now. No product is perfect, and Macs don't even come close. They are, however, the best computers available today. I remember when I wanted to share my printer with my GF's Windows machine, and it was much easier to do than sharing a printer in Windows. Little tweaks like that make a lot of difference.

I agree totally on the Starbucks thing. Their coffee consistently tastes burnt. I can only assume that this is the flavor they're going for, but they can't seem to distinguish between "dark roast" and "burnt". Their espresso is very mediocre, and their pastries taste like palm oil and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. MMMM...

Am I pretentious? Well, I assumed that you all wanted to read *my* views on why Macs don't live up to my high standards of perfection. You be the judge.

That's five pairs of shoes, right?

you know... the prices aren't that different anymore...

Perhaps that's true when you do an apple-to-apple cost comparison ;-). But when you just want a stripped down machine, Apples don't seem to compete. For instance, you can purchase an operating system free Dell PowerEdge server for $269. Or a brand new Dell Vostra mini tower for $350 which includes a 19" flat panel monitor. The cheapest new mac is the mac mini at $599.

Perhaps the PC quality is lower, the graphics card less than stellar, the software bundling is insufficient, etc. And I don't doubt it. But for most things people use computers for, like surfing the intertubez, online banking, pr0n, etc. the PC world seems significantly cheaper. (Of course there are other costs of ownership that may make up the difference, such as computer support).

I would personally love to have a mac (because of the BSD kernel), but I have never been able to justify the additional costs to myself. Maybe if I ever need to do video processing I can justify the expenditure.

By Genuinely Doug (not verified) on 28 Mar 2008 #permalink

Slackware. Everything else is bloatware.

PC users are too busy getting shit done to participate in these silly debates.

The one area where Macs are superior is in helping guys to pick up chicks -- not by sporting a Macbook or something, like the other 50 million nerds trying to broadcast their creativity and originality to the world by flashing a corporate logo.

Rather, in any computer lab (at a university, say), hot girls disproportionately gravitate toward the Mac cluster. Since they're not there to actually get work done, it's like Barnes & Noble or Whole Foods -- hot girls go there mostly to browse, waste time, and to see and be seen. Not a bad place to start a conversation.

Well, let's see:

Mac users are more likely to use teeth-whitening kits (vanity!): Nope, never did, but that's because my very non-white teeth are due to massive doses of tetracycline in early childhood. Not even using straight Clorox for mouthwash would bleach my teeth effectively.

Buy organic food: Frequently, though not exclusively.

Be politically liberal: You bet! I'm a third-generation liberal, raised in a progressive, skeptical, pro-union, multi-ethnic, blue-collar New England family. (The blue-collar part is important. Anyone who buys into the canard that liberalism is a rich person's indulgence clearly did not grow up before 1970 in a Northeastern textile-mill town!)

Be willing to pay more for green technology/buy a hybrid car: Yup. We supplemented our energy needs with solar panels when we lived in Michigan, fer Zarquon's sake. No hybrid yet, but the next car probably will be.

Drink Starbucks: Yup again. I love strong coffee, and I do seek out independent coffeehouses when I can find them, but Starbucks is my reliable default.

Have bought more than 5 new pairs of sneakers in the past year: Nope. I don't wear out my cross-trainers that fast. And I hate buying shoes, so I make mine last until the bitter end.

"Open personality": I'm not sure what that means, so I'll abstain.

Downloaded music last year, and paid for it: Yeah, I done that. I'm more than a little irritated with the music business, but my usual source for commercial music is the iTunes Store.

-- Julie
Proud Mac owner and partisan since 1985, though reasonably bilingual where Windows is concerned.

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 29 Mar 2008 #permalink

Link to (first of three) videos Novell made in the Mac-PC ad vein:

FWIW, I find most Linux developers to be the most down-to-earth of the lot, probably owing to the fact that Free and open source software is displayed for all to see, flaws and all. Oh, and there's no real marketing department for Linux to spin things.

Of course, the fanboys/girls in each camp are zealotous fanboys/girls. In my experience, the elitism is common to all those who actually care about the platform they use.

However, Windows users get perceived as "realists" because most of those who I know that use Windows (the average user) do so because they feel bound to it (some piece of software or hardware they have tied themselves to requires Windows and not Mac) and they often don't actually *like* it, they just feel that they need it for compatibility (with the aforementioned software/hardware or just Everbody Else Uses It / Nobody Got Fired for Buying Microsoft mentality), or because they are just barely hanging on to their Windows knowledge and that's all they know and they're deathly afraid of a different OS.

We Windows users go by our daily lives, but Mac users don't even seem to be using their computers, they seem to be involved AROUND it instead of involved in it that they praise it enough to try to convert people. It's like a religion that doesn't know it yet.

By Tryandsave (not verified) on 01 Mar 2009 #permalink

use pc's and macs everyday, you want to know the difference?

Majority of the pc users don't know anything about a computer so they enjoy the mac more because well. Being 10% of the market share would mean having less users which mean less people creating programs such as spy ware and viruses therefore making navigation way easier.

Pc has more roads and is better for all around use.
MAC is great for graphical purposes.

Why are we all so dumb to compare PCs to Mac?
NEWS FLASH: Macs are a PC and vice versa! They both have 90% of the same hardware, we really need to be comparing the Operating System which runs on it. Windows is great for some things, and same with OSx. Neither suck.

Being a programmer with a Bachelors in Computer Science and an avid technology enthusiast I can only say this: If your not going to use Linux, use a PC.

If costs matters: go PC.

If your smart enough not to get viruses: go PC

If your stupid enough to get viruses, and stupid enough to not have anti-virus: go Mac

If you like getting the most computer for the money: go PC

If you like getting the exact same machine as everyone else that spent the same amount of money as you: go Mac

If you like customizing your machine and modifying it: go PC

If you don't care about customizability: go Mac

If you like belonging to a group with a us vs them mentality: go Mac

If you value anonymity and don't need to be part of a computer culture: go PC

ULTIMATELY: If you prefer reliablity at the cost of Price (and thus Performance), Customization, Ability to Upgrade, and being able to to take it anywhere to be fixed; then go Mac.

Otherwise go PC.

By Smarter than You (not verified) on 20 May 2009 #permalink

I don't know what's worse, the generalized, out-of-your-ass statistics, or the fanboy feedback. The sooner you stop caring about this sort of thing, the sooner mankind can get itself back on track.

I just got my MacBook Pro a few weeks ago and I'm still learning my way around, thank heavens for college children that have macs. My first computer was an apple and that was 25 years ago. I do think Apple product owners are more inclined to be overly self-important. I don't really care for Starbucks as my coffee source, I'm more likely to get Dunkin' Donuts. I occasionally buy organic IF I really want to eat it. I would not consider buying a hybrid (I cant afford them and I do so like my car to have get up and go). I recycle because I cannot see the value in having to pay extra to throw my trash away. I would own a bazillion pairs of sneakers and all sorts of shoes if I could; as it is, I own about 5 or 6 pairs of shoes that I wear regularly. I'm from the Northeast and have always prided myself on a strong work ethic, and yes I am NOT a liberal. I've always had to work for everything I had. I don't own an iPod or iPhone, too expensive for me.

By newmacuser (not verified) on 13 Mar 2010 #permalink

wow... you guys are snobs. and i bet i know why. people who buy macs generally have more money to spend, and so can more likely become part of the class of snobs. however, if you have used a mac and tried to use a windows application (which, by the way, is almost everywhere, as in windows is the #1 Operating System and created almost all of the games, programs, and other propaganda that only runs on windows) you might as well be asking a lion if your meat scented perfume smells right. go try to find a windows emulator and see if you can run anything. i can almost guaranty that you will have no luck. plus, pcs come in different flavors. I.e. linux, knoppix, ubuntu, and there all free. the computer itself is less expensive when you just buy the motherboard, and then you can put whatever the hell you want on it.

By jarvis121 (not verified) on 15 Mar 2010 #permalink

Mac users are the most pretentious idiots whose only reason for going to Starbucks is to show off their Macs, like they are somehow more glamorous because they own a Mac. (BTW how do you work in Starbucks, it's really noisy and the WIFI sucks) They really believe the distortion of Hollywood movies which show Macs in every household or office. As far as I'm concerned Apple is just as or more greedy and exploitative than Microsoft and these idiots think they are somehow changing the world buying a Mac. I own an iMac and I find it just as buggy as Windows only difference is everything is twice as more expensive on the Mac than on Windows.

self-important? Maybe
Intellectually curious? Any informed person should be.
extraordinary and superior? Probably
teeth whitening? - Nope
organic food? - I eat what tastes good
politically liberal? Probably not. I'm more interested in what advances my life.
pay more for green tech? No. I pay for what works.
hybrid car? No.
Starbucks? No
sneakers? No. Johnston & Murphy Slip Ons
open personality? Open to what I like =P
download music? Yes. And pay for it if it is too obscure to find for free =P
satisfied user? Yes.

There are many reasons I choose a Mac most of the time over Linux, or Windows, but when it comes down to it the main reason it is just works. My Mac is able to accomplish everything I need to do on a computer.

I absolutely agree. Macs might be better in some aspects, but you will pay three times more. When's the last time you saw an HP user putting an HP sticker on their car?