4 Myths about Macs and their users

Security & Privacy

When it comes to discussing our favorite operating system, we can sometimes be… less than subjective. We all have our OS of choice and tend to have very set opinions about both the merits and users of other operating systems.

But what do the cold hard facts say? We recently conducted an extended survey on the differences between Mac and Windows users, their habits and about security. We are now using this data, along with other available research to dispel (or confirm) a bunch of myths about Macs and their users.

 

  1. Macs are only used by creative types

Popular culture is full of references to late twenties guys with their home office at the local coffee shop, ones who dress like a lumberjack and yet seem like they have never been to a forest. When introducing themselves, their job title will be some combination of the words “creative”, “visual”, “freelance”, “concept”  and “designer”. In 9 out of 10 instances, he will be sitting in front of his prize possession, a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

This cartoonishly exaggerated example aside, our study found that a surprisingly larger amount of U.S. Mac users (7% more than Windows users) say that their friends would describe them as creative, rather than practical. The reasons for Mac users being more creative might have something to do with the fact that Macs are more popular among graphic designers and other visual professionals. Whether this is because Macs are better suited for visual editing or it is simply brand loyalty is another myth entirely. Which brings us to….

 

  1. Mac users are more loyal to the brand

The urban dictionary defines “Apple Tax” as the steeper price paid for Apple products in comparison to the equally effective products of competitors”. It is commonly used to jokingly to mock Apple fans because they are thought to be more ready to pay more simply because a product has an Apple logo. I myself have had to defend my preference for Apple laptops many times, and it can be hard for justify paying almost double the price than a similarly equipped PC. But is brand loyalty of Mac users a myth?

It should come as no surprise that it isn’t. Our own survey indicates that a whopping 86% of U.S. Apple users spend their free time exclusively on Apple devices. Also, according to a 2013 survey53% of Apple users indicated willingness to upgrade their iPhones that year, vs. only 43% of Android users. That 10% difference translates to around 5 million units of sales.

 

  1. You can’t play games on Macs

The above statement has certainly put off a lot of gamers from buying Macs. Traditionally, gamers have been very conscious of getting the most powerful machine possible for the least amount of money. Knowing the price points of Mac computers and the fact that they are not optimized for gaming, it’s no wonder the words “Mac” and “gaming” have seemed completely incompatible. But is it still so?

Ten years ago, the answer would have been a resolute yes, but today not so much. In the past, the only games we would hear about were the ones released by major publishers, as the had the budgets to handle both the marketing and the distribution. But the rise of new commercial platforms such as Steam have given rise to a whole new sub-industry known as indie gaming. Most indie games comes out for both Mac and PC, and do not require the latest high-end hardware to run. While Mac has stubbornly refused to adapt to gamers, it seems as if the entire industry has now adapted to be more suitable for Macs!

 

  1. Macs don’t get malware…

This is perhaps the most widespread myth related to Macs as an operating system – they are supposedly invulnerable to malware. The logic is as follows: There are far less Mac computers connected to the internet than Windows PCs (currently around 70% of computers are running Windows, vs. 10% Mac) , so it doesn’t make sense for malware developers to make viruses for Macs. While it might be true that Macs are secure by comparison, they are far from safe. In fact, the very first recorded computer virus was on a Mac. Known as the elk cloner, the malware was written by a fifteen year old as a joke. Today’s malware is less about the lulz and more about the money, but Macs are still vulnerable. In fact, statistics show that as the popularity of Macs is increasing, so is the amount of circulating malware.

 

  1. …And even if they did, they would not affect regular users like me.

It’s very common human psychology to think that unforeseeable negative events always happen to someone else. Even among those who are vaguely aware of security threats existing on Macs, a large portion believe they will not be affected. Our own study did not find a difference between how secure Mac and Windows perceive themselves to be: they are both just as overconfident about how impervious they are to malware.

Consider this: the motivation behind creating consumer targeted malware these days is largely financial, and the average Mac user is known to have a higher income. Last year, over 7,000 computers were infected with the Keranger ransomware, and all of those computers were Macs. Recent findings tell us that as the popularity of Macs is increasing, so is the amount of malware targeting Mac OS. 

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