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Mac Install-Base Shown to Be 16% 717

Posted by Zonk
from the thats-a-lot-of-fruit dept.
Kelly McNeill writes "MacDailyNews has an editorial which summarizes reports from various research groups that analyzed the number of computer users affected by viruses. The conclusion was that 16 percent of all computer users are not affected by viruses because they use Macs. The lack of viruses on a Mac is commonly known, but the interesting thing is the fact that the results finally provide the first set of conclusive numbers which illustrate the Macintosh's install-base. So far only "market-share" statistics are commonly published for the public and do not convey install base. (If for example 2 people are using computers and one replaces his 2x in a 3 year period and the other only does once, market-share dynamics dictate that one demographic has 75% market share while the other has only 25% -- even though install base is still 50/50.)"
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Mac Install-Base Shown to Be 16%

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  • by IO ERROR (128968) * <error@iCHICAGOoerror.us minus city> on Sunday June 05, 2005 @04:39AM (#12727912) Homepage Journal
    I actually went to RTFA because I wanted to see just who it was claiming that the Mac installed base was 16% and what do I find?

    Software Publishers Association (SPA) estimates that 16 percent of computer users are on Macs.

    OK, I won't worry too much about bias now, though if someone has a reason to think the SPA is off-base, please let us all know. This is truly something to celebrate. Now, let's get the Linux installed base to 16%...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The number only seems high because for years the word market-share has been mistakenly used to describe installed base instead of percentage of sales each quarter.

      • by badasscat (563442)
        The number only seems high because for years the word market-share has been mistakenly used to describe installed base instead of percentage of sales each quarter.

        Well, I'm more than a little skeptical of these numbers, because by nature they're talking about Macs connected to the internet, and these numbers do not jibe at all with any results we've ever seen from web use in general.

        I'm responsible for tracking web use at my company (a division of the largest media company in the world, but I'll keep it
        • by definition (based on the test in the parent article) all of those Macs are connected to the internet

          Actually, this is a RTFA issue - the /. summary was so far off the mark it's not funny. The MacDaily article was talking about two things: First, a press release from Wizzard Software:

          "In a press release on Friday, Wizzard Software explained why they believe the Macintosh market is important as they prepare to release AT&T Natural Voices for Apple's Mac OS X:"

          In this quoted press release Wizza

    • ... on Mac hardware!

      I've just installed Ubuntu on a Mac Mini...
      Reason? - Excellent (reliable) hardware, with a
      vast software base that's rapidly getting better,
      with 6 monthly stable releases.

    • by MrHanky (141717) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @07:22AM (#12728404) Homepage Journal
      This statistic is clearly pulled from someone's arse, but for some reason you think it's OK because the arseman isn't a well known Mac zealot?

      There are several ways to test the validity of a statement, and none of them have to do with who made the statement. In this case, you could ask how the statistic was collected and how large the sample was. You'll notice the number 16% is a fantasy based on an assumption that has no base in any evidence. It's bunk, 'bias' or not.

      I can understand how someone would dismiss out of hand something coming from Rob Enderle or a politician, but not how it's possible to accept something just because the source seems neutral. That's just stupid, and shows an incredibly unscientific mindset.
      • by Qwavel (733416) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @12:22PM (#12729564)

        I completely disagree.

        We don't have the time (or skill) to research the validity of every study ourselves. Even large and well designed studies can be biased by its choice of question. In other words, if a study was funded by an interested party, they will find a way to get the answer they want.

        So, we must look at the source, and the funding. So 'who made the statement' is very important.
    • 16 percent of computer users are on Macs is not the same as computers are on 16% of all computers. For instance, someone can have more than one PC, correct?

      And I still find the 16% really hard to believe, no matter which way it is intended to be represented.
      • by hey! (33014)
        And I still find the 16% really hard to believe, no matter which way it is intended to be represented.

        I don't find it hard to believe, although I think the figure is (A) an upper limit and (B) has probably 1 digit of precision.

        The thing is, I guarantee you there are a lot people who are happily working on macs that are five or even ten years old. They don't show up in the market share figures, and they don't happen to be the kind of people you associate with, that's all.
    • The problem with that number is the data it's drawn from. The 16% is the number of internet connected computers not affected by viruses, and they just assume that all of them are Macs. What about Linux or BSD? Aren't they similarly unaffected by the Windows virus scourge?

      I think the truth is that 16% is divided up among Mac, Linux, BSD, Solaris, and probably a few more. There have been other reports in the last few years showing Mac and Linux roughly even, at up to 7% each, which doesn't seem at all unlike
  • by quinxy (788909) * on Sunday June 05, 2005 @04:42AM (#12727926) Homepage

    Hmm, the summary of the article seems to include more facts than the article itself. The summary makes a big point of how TFA's 16% number if found from the virus infection percentage. TFA doesn't say that's where the 16% comes from at all. All the article body says is "In addition, the Software Publishers Association (SPA) estimates that 16 percent of computer users are on Macs." The headline says that 16% of users aren't infected because they use Macs, but it doesn't explain that or justify it. Besides, even if the summary was correct, then this would seem a very poor way to guess at install base. The browser's "user agent" header sent to a general interest site like Google would seem a far better way. Admittedly that would be skewed by Mac users using being "forced" to access Google from Windows in a work environment, but still. That seems like it would have to be more accurate than the approach hinted at in the summary. In searching for google stats on this I found on the Mac Daily News site a discussion which included this very topic [macdailynews.com] when the issue of install base was previously discussed there.

  • no virus != apple. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 05, 2005 @04:43AM (#12727930)
    Just because it doesn't have a virus or malware on it, doesn't mean it is an Apple computer. My Laptop is not an Apple, it doesn't have any malware on it (running Linux). My desktop doesn't have any on that I know of, it is running Windows.

    I have several other machines of both windows and linux that are completely clean. They aren't apple. I have a Powerbook, that is clean too, but it is an Apple.
    • Just because it doesn't have a virus or malware on it, doesn't mean it is an Apple computer.

      Although highly misleading, technically, the article's title does not claim that all computer without viruses are Macs. It's claiming that 16% of users do not have viruses because they use Macs. That statement does not preclude the possibility of additional (non-Mac) users that do not have viruses because they practice safe computing.

  • by lxt (724570) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @04:44AM (#12727934) Journal
    ...if you actually read the RTFA, you'd notice that the 16% statistic comes from the Software Publishing Alliance, not the editorial itself.

    In fact, the conclusion of the editorial is the following two points:

    1)More people use Macs than most people realize.

    2) People who use Macs don't get many viruses.

    Shock! Horror! What next - "The Sky is Blue"? I'm a mac user, and am all for increading market share, but this editorial seems rather vapid...where's the news?
    • I think the news is that since a lot of hay is made over the 3% number. People tend to regard it as a foolhardy move to try and create software for only 3% of the market.

      If in fact apple has 16% of the install-base, there is a much greater reason for commercial developers to spend the time and resources to port or start their work with the apple platform in mind.

      Since one of the major complaints about Macs by people that don't have them (along with "one-button-mouse," "lack-of-expandability," etc. etc) i
  • by TimmyDee (713324) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @04:44AM (#12727936) Homepage Journal
    This is good news to hear. In a way, it confirms what I always suspected (especially since I keep my Macs longer than most of my equivalent PC friends -- and I'm a real gearhead). When you get down to it, though, I don't really care how much marketshare/install base Apple has, so long as they can keep cranking out the excellent products that they do.*

    *Please keep in mind that I do realize the connection between profitability and new product development. All I'm saying is that the numbers could mean less as long as I'm a happy customer. And boy am I happy.
  • there couldn't possibly be any other operating systems that don't get viruses making up some of that 16%, could there? Oh no, because there's so many viruses for linux and beos and bsd and os/2....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why aren't there 16% Safari/OSX.*Mozilla users on the web? These numbers are very much made up...
  • by davmoo (63521)
    Just because a machine has never been infected by a virus or other malicious software is absolutely NO indication of what OS its running.

    I've had a PC of one brand or another since they first came out. And every one of my machines has run versions of Windows the majority of the time. I've had the machine I'm typing this from for three years. It runs Windows XP and has since the day I purchased it.

    In 20+ years of PC use I have never been infected by malicious software of any kind. Ever.

    Whether or not
    • yeah you're right. remember MSBlaster? if every one of those people infected by that had used a Mac instead, they'd still have been infected. cos they're all stupid. and viruses can tell stupid users from clever ones. cos they watch you through the monitor. I swear these WINE guys working on emulation are wasting their time. just call your program a 'virus' and it'll work on any platform. so long as the users are stupid enough. I suppose they need to keep working on a solution for us clever people though do
      • If every one of those people infected had updated their Windows in a timely fashion they wouldn't have been infected. Could the MSBlaster virus infect Macs? No, of course not. But another virus could be created just as easily to take advantage of the stupidty of users on the Mac, and that was his point. Virsues are preventable on all operating systems and viruses are feasible on all operating systems.
    • According to your logic, Microsoft must be very incompetent because they have been infected numerous times including by MSBlaster and that MS-SQL worm.

      But hey, I think you are actually right on this. MS is pretty incompetent, just look at IE compared to any other browser, look at how they work on Longhorn for years and all interesting features are dropped, look at how much XBox loses them money...

  • by paranoidgeek (840730) <paranoidgeek@gmail.com> on Sunday June 05, 2005 @05:13AM (#12728036) Homepage
    My web site's stats are 1-3% MacOS ( all version ). Even that figure is blown up a bit since a couple of webmaster's use Macs.

    Anyway full stats :

    Windows XP 495 60.37%
    Windows 98 117 14.27%
    Windows 2000 85 10.37%
    Windows ME 41 5.00%
    Other 22 2.68%
    Linux 21 2.56%
    MacOS X 13 1.59%
    Windows 95 11 1.34%
    MacOS PPC 6 0.73%
    Windows NT 4 0.49%
    Windows 2003 4 0.49%
    Windows 1 0.12%
    Total 820
    • 820? That's a very small sample size, so you can't really expect the results to be reliable. Besides, what's your site about? If it's a site full of Windows apps, then there won't be many Mac users. Conversely, if you go to a site like macgamefiles.com, you'll find that Macs have the majority of the stats.
    • I show about 5% mac users. The breakdown is pretty interesting. I wonder what it's like on a mainstream site like CNN. Why doesn't ACNielsen keep stats like they do TV ratings?

      no. reqs pages OS
      1 366019 70773 Windows
      301146 58463 Windows XP
      51537 9590 Windows 2000
      7427 1441 Windows 98
      2663 483 Windows ME
      1422 311 Windows NT
      838 219 Windows Server 2003
      773 218 Unknown Windows
      187 36 Wi
  • WTF!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by mangus_angus (873781)
    Symantec lied to me?!!!
  • by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Sunday June 05, 2005 @05:32AM (#12728079)
    It's impossible to get the one true metric for this. But the statistics of the BOINC project [berkeley.edu] (formerly SETI@home, now includes other projects as well) give another, perhaps more reasonable data point. [boincstats.com]

    They have

    • Windows -- 89.5%
    • Linux -- 7.8%
    • Darwin -- 2.3%
    • Other -- 0.4%

    Now, this data is obviously skewed with respect to the total distribution, since the people who run something like SETI@home are probably more technologically inclined than the average computer user. This would mean that the percentage of non-Windows OSes is higher in this sample. On the other hand, the software for BOINC (SETI@home) is still somewhat Windows-centric, which would in turn increase the Windows share in the sample.

    An interesting data point, nonetheless.

    • Another data point, distributed.net RC5-72 CPU/OS statistics:

      X86/Win32 -- 73%
      X86/Linux -- 11%
      PowerPC/Mac OS X -- 11%

      The remaining 5% is divided among dozens of other combinations.
      http://stats.distributed.net/misc/platformlist.php ?project_id=8&view=tco [distributed.net]

      I have to note that the PowerPC client for distributed.net is very good, a single 1.2 GHz G4 performs on par with a dual 2.4 GHz P4. So, these statistics suggest that ~5.5% of the CPUs is running Mac OS X.

    • I say bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Udo Schmitz (738216) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:07AM (#12728515) Journal
      Seti@home was well known for denying PPC/AltiVec optimizations to their software. So the project was abandoned by most Mac user who then went to distributed.net. Read [macnn.com] about it. Excerpt:

      "SETI@Home 2.0.4 was the fastest version of SETI for Macs. It relied heavily on the amount of L2 cache on the processor. Since most modern macs have 512K or 1MB of cahe it was able to produce results far better than a PC of the same MHz. But when 3.0 came all that changed. The L2 cache programming was removed and the speed was based solely on the MHz. So then Macs fell behind in WU times." [...]

      "The best part of RC5 is that it is Alti-Vec and multi-processor aware, and Macs crunch data 5 times faster than a PC of the same MHz. It is a great way to show off the speed of your CPU."

  • The 16% is some figure that someone just uttered, without any evidence or methodology or even source behind it. Without that, it's impossible to determine even what it means, let alone whether it is valid.

    Whatever it is, it can't refer to Apple's actual installed based.

    Apple market share is about 3% and web statistics generally put Apple users at around 2%. Those figures are consistent, assuming that Macs and PCs are used for about the same amount of time on average and given that people tend to spend m
  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday June 05, 2005 @05:41AM (#12728109) Homepage
    Given the data points:

    - The vast majority of studies estimate the installed base of the macintosh at somewhere around three to five percent.
    - One study estimates it at sixteen percent.

    The conclusion is:

    - The studies estimating at three to five percent must have been doing something wrong

    D...id I miss something here?
    • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbearNO@SPAMpacbell.net> on Sunday June 05, 2005 @10:15AM (#12728965) Homepage
      Yes. Your first statement should be:

      - The vast majority of studies estimate the marketshare of the macintosh at somewhere around three to five percent.
      - One study estimates it (installed base) at sixteen percent.

      There is a difference between installed base and marketshare.

      If a PC user buy a new PC every other year and a Mac user buy a Mac every four years, you would see that the PC has 60% marketshare, but the installed base is still really only 50%.

      Given that Mac users have claimed, for a while, about how long they last (a combination of higher price and higher satisfaction, I'm sure, in that they can't afford to buy a new Mac every other year, and that when they bought it in the first place it met their needs to the point that they didn't need to buy or upgrade a couple years later because it was slow or unsatisfying or virus infected), it wouldn't surprise me if Mac users replaced their Macs every 8 years while PC users have traditionally replaced their PCs every 3.
      • I could serve as an example here...

        I bought a G3 tower (beige) in 1998. I still use it. It's a Debian PPC Samba domain controller.

        I bought a G3 Powerbook in 1999. I still use it. It's a chat/email/web-surfing machine, running OSX 10.3.9.

        I bought a generic PC in 2002 to make Unreal Tournament maps and playing games (like UT, of course). I've since upgraded it and it has become 2 PC's, but I gave the old one away to my dad (for use as a word/excel/notepad-type record keeping machine for his business). Mine
    • by Thu25245 (801369)
      The vast majority of studies estimate the installed base of the macintosh at somewhere around three to five percent.

      Incorrect.

      The vast majority of studies estimate the market share of the Macintosh at somewhere around three to five percent.

      Market share is about current sales volume relative to sales of other products.

      Installed base is about deployed systems relative to other deployed systems.

      If I own four Macs and buy a PC, then PCs have 100% market share in my home, but 20% of the installed base.
  • by Lars T. (470328) <Lars.TraegerNO@SPAMgooglemail.com> on Sunday June 05, 2005 @05:45AM (#12728126) Journal
    The article makes a number of points, and those interested could RTFA - yeah right. The points it makes are taken from other articles.

    One of them is AT&T Natural Voices coming soon for Apple Mac OS X [macdailynews.com]

    "When you consider the dynamic growth of Apple products and the high quality of user interface that Apple users expect, it seemed very compelling to make this great technology available to the Apple development community as well."

    [...] According to US News and World Report, Macintosh owners buy 30% more software than their Windows counterparts. Further, Macintosh software comprises over 18% of all software sold, according to the Software and Information Industry Association. In addition, the Software Publishers Association (SPA) estimates that 16 percent of computer users are on Macs.

    So cheer up, they only count people buying software, thus most Linux users don't show up here ;-)
  • It is always said that there are no viruses on the Mac because it is a better/safer OS. But couldn't this be caused by the type of user alone? I believe there is a very high correlation between buying an Apple and being computer-savvy (or just weird?). Getting infected by a virus usually means some stupid user action (opening an attachment) or not having your patches up to date, both of which are influenced by computer knowledge. This combined with the fact that writers of malware will probably target the b
    • I got my grandparents to get a Mac, does that mean that they are computer-savvy?

      How many Windows viruses out there get in with no user intervention? How many exploits do you see for UNIX which let an attacker execute arbitary code with root priviliges on the base OS install?
      • I think you didn't get the concept correlation. Your grandparents having one does not prove that there is no overall correlation.

        The infection rate is a nonlinear function (exponential growth and stuff) of user skills, install base, atractivity to malware writers AND inherent security of the OS. People only talk about the last part, while the others might as well explain the differences.

        • Re:users? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lachlan76 (770870)
          it doesn't matter how skilled your users are if you have an unsecure OS.

          If the OS itself is completely secure then it's the skills of the admin that affect the infection rate.

          For example:

          User A is highly skilled, (s)he takes all the proper precautions, but a bug in the network stack compromises the computer.

          User B is not skilled, but has a secure OS and competent admin. The user tries to run an executable attachment, but because the admin hasn't signed it it cannot run and the computer stays secure.

          Wh
  • If this actually starts to pan out, i.e. other studies point to the same numbers (and I'm not convinced because Google and other web studies point to a number more like the currently accepted 3%) then it means that there is a huge market for Macintosh software that is being neglected by software publishers.

    It would mean that all those vertical market apps that have been windows only would make money for the developers if they were ported to the Mac.
  • by wootest (694923) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @07:34AM (#12728427)
    I can't personally find a link to the SPA web site, but if it includes shareware developers, and I think it does, this could very easily be explained.

    There's a creeping suspicion that the average Mac users spend more on software than the average PC (and by PC in this context I mean Windows on x86, because it's shorter to write) user. Why is this?

    Most PCs sit around in offices and do stuff you'd normally do with Office - word processing, spread sheets, emails. Far from all PCs, of course, but definitely *most*.

    A sizable part of the Mac installed base are those who do publishing, or video editing, or DVD production, or something with media in general. These people go out and buy font managers, editing software and plug-ins, each probably running up an average of 80 bucks per product, with the actual editing software running from 200 bucks and up, not uncommonly into 500+ territory. People do this on PCs too, but I would bet on the percentage of the installed base being a lot smaller.

    Another sizable part of the Mac installed base are those who sit at home and buy lots of shareware. This has a direct counterpart in the PC world, and they're probably about the same size percentage-wise. Note that games fall in the same price spectrum, that the hard-core gamer is likely to spend more on extra hardware (mice, gpu, keyboard, display) than on software, and that piracy probably helps inflate this segment.

    And then there's also the fact that, *for whatever reason*, people seem to use Macs longer. Getting three years out of a Mac isn't extraordinary, it's average. Macs also have a higher value on the used market, so there's no rush to sell it.

    I think all of this adds up to a skewing of these statistics.
  • Math? (Score:3, Informative)

    by kf6auf (719514) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @08:35AM (#12728586)

    (If for example 2 people are using computers and one replaces his 2x in a 3 year period and the other only does once, market-share dynamics dictate that one demographic has 75% market share while the other has only 25% -- even though install base is still 50/50.)

    Let's go over this: Person A buys a peecee but feels compelled to upgrade later (by buying a new computer) resulting in an 2 peecees purchased while Person B buys a Mac only once. The install base is 50/50 but the market share shows that 2/3 of computers bought are peecees and only 1/3 are Macs. Where did the 75%/25% come from?

    Now that we've established that your summary sucked (no offense), should I bother reading the article? It is /.

    On another note, in the Astrophysics Department here at Caltech, I'd say something like a fifth of the install base is Windows, the rest being Macs and Linux (with more Mac laptops and linux desktops) and several other non-engineering science departments have many more Macs than Windows boxen but if you want me to believe that a macs make up 16% you've better have some really good data out there that no one else does.

  • by yardbird (165009) * on Sunday June 05, 2005 @09:51AM (#12728853) Homepage
    Windows still has the remaining 384%.
  • by blinkylights (589120) on Sunday June 05, 2005 @11:32AM (#12729313)

    The only browser/OS market share statistics I trust are the ones based on my own first-hand experience. All the others tend to ignore important relevant criteria, produce wildly differing results, and are often colored by ideological and/or financially-motivated bias.

    Based on first-hand empirical evidence, it's perfectly clear that Mac users make up about 40% of desktop computer users, and about 60% of laptop users, and that approximately 75% use Firefox as their primary browser. Among Mac users, Safari and Firefox use is approximately 50-50%

    Of course, this was the same method I used to predict last year's Democratic landslide...

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