Apple’s web professional market share

When computer market share statistics are mentioned, Apple is usually said to have something like 2-3 % of the PC market worldwide. Maybe that’s an accurate number, maybe it isn’t. For this site, however, the numbers are completely different.

That got me thinking about why. I am a Mac user myself, but I don’t write about Macs or Apple or Mac OS apps specifically. I mostly write about web standards, accessibility and usability. Most of the time in a pretty technical way, too. So why are 15 to 20 percent of my visitors Mac users?

Does it reflect the web design and development community as a whole, or does it just show that those interested in the subjects I tend to write about are Mac users to a greater extent than the general population?

On sites that focus on visual design, a large percentage of Mac using visitors is to be expected. Since my posts tend to be pretty technical, or at least not specifically focused on the visual part of web design, I don’t think that’s the case here.

My theory is that there indeed are many Mac users among web standards adopters and advocates. But why? I can think of a couple of reasons:

  • Future proofing your ability to browse the web. One of my reasons for picking up web standards is very selfish. I saw it as a way of making sure that I would be able to keep using my Mac to browse the web. Come to think of it, there are tens of millions of other Mac users, so maybe I’m not being so selfish after all.

    A few years ago, it looked like the web was heading towards becoming a gigantic Microsoft-only application. More and more sites were greeting me with Don’t use Internet Explorer on a Windows machine? Tough luck. Go away.. Not in those exact words, but that was the message. I wanted to do whatever I could to stop that disease from spreading to the entire web.

  • Mac users are outside the Microsoft sphere of influence. Many web developers are so stuck in their Microsoft world that they hardly know that alternatives exist. And most of those who do know don’t care. It’s all about Microsoft for them. They use Microsoft tools on a Microsoft operating system and check their stuff in a Microsoft browser, completely unaware of the world outside. Not so for Mac users. Maybe we’re more willing to try alternatives. Well, we’re actually forced to since there are no Mac versions of any Microsoft developer tools. And Internet Explorer for the Mac is dead.

I think those are two important reasons. There may be more.

What are your statistics telling you? Do all sites focused on web standards and accessibility have lots of Mac using visitors? If so, what do you think is the reason for that?

Posted on October 5, 2004 in Web Standards


  1. Being a non-Mac professional web developer (I have one windows machine and several Linux machines) I have a similar outlook on web development.

    I have worked for other companies that have the mentality you mentioned in your second point. In fact, I was checking out a site my previous employer did just the other day and found it was broken in every browser except IE 5.5+ (complete MS shop - front to back, top to bottom)

    Now, I’m a relative newcomer to the web standards arena, but I have always been an advocate of alternative OS and browser choices.

    I just wish that more of my clients could see what happens when a devloper doesn’t care about compatability. (not to say that my sites are perfect, but they work in a majority of browsers) So, I try to change the world, one client at a time. It may be slow, but it is progress.

    • Jason
  2. One thing that I have noted on my personal page is that I have about 18% of Mozilla users. I think that is the same as you write about Mac. I have not many Mac / Safari users. I do not write anything about Mozilla. I write about personal things and xhtml + css. I think that there is some change in the web development world. I, and many that I know working with web start off designing in Mozilla Firefox, then fix all errors found in IE ;) But the problem is still that the majority of the users use IE and Win so we still need to develop for them.

  3. My company, westciv, have had a CSS editor, Style Master for Mac and Windows available for about 6 years now. We’ve always been intrigued by the fact that about 30% of our customers are on the Mac platform. We’ve always figured it had to do with the orthodoxies that Mac users are concentrated in the graphics and web design world, and also simply more likely to purchase software. Your experience and ideas puts a new perspective on this. I think they’re more likely to have become exposed to standards based web development purely through their own experience of being locked out of online content more often than your average Windows user might be. It’s interesting too that when you get to know a lot of the big name developers in web standards, the use of the Mac is almost ubiquitous.

  4. October 5, 2004 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jens: I’ve noticed that less than half of my Mac using visitors use Safari. Most use Firefox. Very few use IE/Mac - less than half a percent (of all visitors), similar to OmniWeb and Camino.

  5. WinIE users may be the majority, but remember this: Mac users are likely gonna be RICH. If you, like me, can afford a flat panel iMac, you’re the type o’fella who’ll pay a little bit more for extra quality. Apple makes very good margins out of its products, and gets a very loyal user base. You want that for your company? Maybe you make sure your website works on a Mac.

    It’s all about audience.

  6. I get a mix of all kinds of OSs and browsers on my site which deals with web design, technology, and my personal interests. Mac users come by too, but it doesn’t compare to my MS users.

    However, I have noticed a sharp drop of late in the number of IE users on my site. About 46% of my users still use IE (mostly 6), but the remaining use a standards based browser of some brand or other, including Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, Safari, even Firebird, among others.

    Agreed my site’s hits do not define a pattern of general browser usage across the globe, but at least, I have enough reason to start thinking only standards. Looks like the Internet is getting to be hospitable after all, and the operating system finally doesn’t matter. Freedom at last!

  7. Interesting, Roger. Here’s the latest from ShortStat on my personal site:

    Windows: 57%
    Indeterminable: 33%
    Macintosh: 6%
    Linux: 4%

    Still seems to be more than the 2-3% average you mention, but certainly not as high as your 15-20 per cent. I’ll be interested to see how this changes over time.

  8. I’ve wondered about this too. A couple of (inflammatory?) reasons I came up with:

    Friends don’t let friends use Windows: Most of my friends have given up on Windows, at least at home. I take credit for this! This was reflected in my blog usage stats more when it was just friends reading, but they continue to be a part of my visitors.

    Correlation between an appreciation for well-designed machines, ergonomic operating systems and clean websites. Those who judge information in part also by how it is organized, presented and its ease of access tend to favor Mac systems, I think. People with an esthetic sense tend to be drawn to esthetic websites like yours, not just because it pleases them but also because they like to think about such things more.

  9. My statistics say:

    80% use Windows, 12% use a Mac.

    60% use Internet Explorer, 19% use Firefox, 7% use Safari.

  10. What I find interesting about my statistics is that about 66% of my visitors use Windows, while only 26% of them use Internet Explorer. So about 60% of my Windows visitors are using a browser other than the native IE. I’m also happy to see that Mozilla use is actually 8% over IE usage at 34%. Way to go visitors!

  11. I’ve checked my stats for user agent strings and it turns out that about 80% of my traffic is via aggregators. A fairly large number of visits are via NetNewsWire!

    Most Windows news readers don’t identify themselves as IE even though they have IE embedded, but it’s surprizing to see this many Mac visitors on an ASP.NET site.

  12. October 5, 2004 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Maxine: Yeah, a lot of the big names are Mac users. Eric Meyer, Jeffrey Zeldman, D. Keith Robinson, Dave Shea, Dan Cederholm, and Douglas Bowman, just to name a few.

    Steve: For me, Windows users are around 45% IE and 55% Mozilla/Firefox/Opera.

    Milan: I get a large amount of aggregator traffic too, but nowhere near 80%. NetNewsWire accounts for 4-5%.

  13. My IE stats are pretty healthy: 31% IE (all versions) versus 44% for Firefox and Mozilla. The graphic focus of my personal site probably lends to the high Mac percentage: 13%.

    One funny thing is that I’ve had almost twice as much traffic from IE 5 than from Safari 1.0; probably due to the high uptake of OSX upgrades.

  14. I’d say around 25% of my site visitors are Mac users as well. I do occasionally talk about Mac related stuff, but not that often.

    I doubt there is a direct correlation between standards and being a Mac user. However because of it’s UNIX base Macs are now much more attractive to the developer community than they ever were.

    Amongst professional computer users, the Mac usage figures do appear a lot higher. I think this is partly because Mac’s provide such a good user experience, those people who use a computer all the time are willing to pay that little bit more to make their lives more pleasant. I find quite a few people will use a PC at work, but choose to buy a Mac for home because they are easier to use.

    I think it’s also a matter of exposure. If you work in a creative field like design, Macs have always been around so people get a chance to play with them and get to know them. Web design companies will often have at least one Mac for testing purposes so web designers get a chance to play as well.

    However in the larger business world, most regular companies solely use PC’s so their employees never really get the chance to play with a Mac. All their peers and PC users, so getting a PC seems the obvious choice.

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