I’d been noticing over time that the distribution of browser usage in our audience suggested some real growth in the number of our readers who use Macs. But I hadn’t looked at the operating system statistics for a while. So I was still pretty surprised to see that just under 30% of our audience uses Macs. To be precise, in September, 29.43% of the visits to TPM were from Macs; 65.72% were from Windows operation systems. (Also interesting: the 3rd highest, far, far back at 2.36% is the iPhone operating system.)
I know there are people who watch these things very closely. And this won’t come as any surprise to them. And I think it’s probably also the case that our audience’s demographic probably has more Mac users than the population at large. But seeing these numbers made me realize that my head is still back in what I guess is a ten or fifteen year old paradigm in which the percentage of people using Apple computers was in the mid- to maybe high- single digits. (See stats below for percentages in population at large — they’re only now hitting double digits.)
Again, I knew it had grown. Just not how much.
To track the growth, I went and checked our numbers at intervals going back a few years.
Six months ago, in March, Macs accounted for 27.25% of our visits.
A year ago, in September 2008, it was 25.91%
18 months ago, in March 2008, 25.55%
2 years ago, in September 2007, 22.79%
2.5 years ago, March 2007, 21.07%
So over 30 months, the number of Mac users has grown by almost 50% (or 10 percentage points) from just over 20% to just under 30%. It’s just under 10 percenatege points. But with something as widely distributed as personal computer usage and over such a relatively short period of time that’s a very dramatic shift.
This article suggests, as I suspected, that TPM’s audience has a much higher percentage of Mac usage than the population at large. According to a study by Net Applications from just under a year ago, about 10% of people used Macs. But the rate of growth of Mac to Windows usage seems about on par with ours, just starting from a much lower point. The pick up appears to have started in 2006 (which happens to be when I bought my first Mac) and accelerated in the last year.
Does this dovetail with your experience? Are you one of the converts? As I explained in this post from about three years ago, I bought my first Mac because I was finally at a point in my life where I had enough money and computers were central enough to what I do, that I could afford to buy a really good personal computer. I’d been using PCs for about twenty years. But try as I might, I realized that I simply could not find a computer in the PC world that was well manufactured or worked very well. So out of pure desperation I bought a Mac to see if they were any better and I never looked back.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.