Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hello, I'm a Mac 

A few years ago I was driving home from a late night hockey game. At that hour, the streets near Spadina Road and Dupont (for non-Torontonians, North of Bloor, Spadina Avenue becomes Spadina Road) are pretty much abandoned, except for this Asian guy I see riding his bicycle loaded with overstuffed bags (like a scene straight out of Beijing, this guy is riding a bicycle completely overloaded like Juan Valdes' mule, after midnight in January — I see him every week). That's beside the point.

My real point is, on this particular night, I realized what a huge cliché I was. There I was, wearing, what I like to think of as a very hip, vintage racing jacket (Johnson outboard motor sports in metallic gold - very 1970s), a "trucker-style" baseball cap (which, in truth, I only wear after hockey because I need to cover my head but don't want to wear a wool tuque), listening to what was then a huge Moby hit (mix of dance/house/pop/electronic - verification needed), and driving a Volkswagen Golf GT (2.0L, totally kicks the ass of anything else in it's class). It's like I just walked out of marketer's hand book.

There you have it. I'm an over-educated Mac user, who works as a designer in the "tech-sector", drives a VW Golf, wears vintage duds (ironically or otherwise), drinks French-press fair-trade coffee, listens to popular yet progressive music, prefers galleries and museums over monster truck rallies, prefers pubs over bars, only drinks locally brewed beers, chooses organically raised beef, local produce when possible, performs some level of physical activity 2-3 times a week and believes mistakenly, beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am a unique individual.

This Mac-vs-PC Infographic however, begs to differ. Not only does it reinforce every PC vs Mac cliché, it drives home the point that Mac users see themselves as unique and different but really are just all the same. Of course, there's a slight problem here. The graphic is the result of a questionnaire from a Web site where almost 25% of respondents didn't even identify themselves as either a Mac or PC type person. So you're really focusing on a subset of a subset; only 75% of people that use identify themselves with their computer of choice. As a caveat, I've tried before and found it pretty useless. It reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer starts taking Movieline calls only to ask callers in a robotic voice, "why don't you just tell me what movie you'd like to see?" when he can't decipher their push button prompts.

In the end, I don't think this shows the difference between PC and Mac users as much as the difference between Mac users and everyone else. Only 10% of respondents said they were Mac people and really PC users are made up of users of Microsoft, HP, Dell, Sony etc. (though that's not shown). Mac users typically work in fields of creative media such as art & design, music, film, and writing because either the device lends itself to those applications or it is marketed that way. People who work in those fields probably do tend to be more liberal or have particular tastes. The keyword is "tends". I believe the difference between my "tendency" to do something and my likelihood, while not fundamentally huge, is still an important distinction. Despite the adage that you can't judge a book by its cover, it turns out you probably can judge a user by their MacBook.

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