Mac, Windows Marketing Doesn't Match Reality in the Home

Can it be true? Mac and Windows PCs coexist peacefully in the home, according to a new study by market researcher The NPD Group. The 2009 Household Penetration report provides some intriguing insights in the Mac vs. Windows culture war.

Actually, it shows there isn't much of a war at all. Because nearly 85 percent of U.S. households that own an Apple computer also own a Windows-based PC. And Macintosh penetration is on the rise: Some 12 percent of all U.S. computer-owning homes have a Mac, up from 9 percent in 2008.

Does this digital diversity in the home mean it's time for Apple and Microsoft to soften their ad campaigns a bit? After all, Apple's ongoing series of "Get a Mac" TV ads imply that Windows users, as personified by John Hodgman, are clueless dweebs:

And Microsoft's "Laptop Hunters" ads make it clear that the average Mac buyer is a hipster doofus who throws money away on overpriced hardware. Note Lauren's seemingly throwaway quip, "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person."

With the number of mixed-system households on the rise, maybe it's time for Apple and Microsoft to tone down the rhetoric a bit. Will it happen? It's doubtful, as both Mac and Windows brands have very strong identities in their ads. Still, the insults may ultimately backfire by offending potential customers.

Besides, don't Apple and Microsoft really need each other? Excluding the Mac vs. Windows argument, Apple essentially sells premium computers to an affluent customer base. And Microsoft would face a mountain of antitrust issues if the Mac were suddenly to disappear.

Then again, snarky ads are very entertaining. Maybe the Mac vs. Windows marketing war isn't such a bad thing after all.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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