Not PC as in "politically correct," though they certainly have more than their share of those who patrol the language for any nuance that gives off hints of liberalism. PC as in PC.
No one has any doubt that PCs running some flavor of Microsoft Windows dominate the computer landscape as much as dinosaurs did the Jurassic plains. Little Unix systems pop up here and there, as do many less well known systems, holding down small niches in the computer ecosystem.
And then there is Apple.
Despite the dropping of the word "computer" from the company name, Apple does still make computers. The scampering mammals of the IT landscape, Macs have sometimes come close to extinction and even now hold down just less than 5% of computer sales. Hardware wise, that 5% is not so bad, considering that the PC world is divided up amongst Dell, HP, Gateway, Sony, whoever owns IBM's name this week, and a thousand others. Apple is solidly among the top brands.
But on the software side, the share of the market held by Apple's OS X operating system looks tiny beside Microsoft's behemoth. It's even smaller on conservative web sites. When it comes to visitors to Instapundit, OS X visitors make up only 2-3%, suggesting that conservatives are less likely to go for the Apple brand than the general public. On the other hand, Daily Kos statistics show that between 15% and 25% of visitors to this site are using Macs -- an astounding 5x times the general population of these computers. If you were at YearlyKos last time around, you could spot more Macs at breakfast than you'd find in an Apple store.
So here's a question: why? Why do liberals like Macs, while conservatives shun them?
- The Fiscal Conservative Theory: conservatives are, well, conservative. They go for lowest bottom dollar price they can find, and (traditionally at least, though not so much of late) Apple products tend to cost a bit more than the average. So conservative PC numbers are bolstered by a bunch of bare-bones models bought on the cheap.
- Conformists vs Individuals Theory: despite conservative rhetoric that champions the "rugged individual," the whole point of social conservatism has traditionally been to knock down those nails that stand up above the rest of the row. In short, conservatives buy PCs because they want to buy what everyone else has. Liberals buy Macs because they want to put a metaphorical finger in the eye of "the man" (assuming that finger could penetrate Bill Gate's thick glasses).
- The Hip vs Tragically Unhip Theory: It's been true since at least the 50s, daddio. Conservatives are squares, dig it? So conservatives buy computers that look like gray lunch buckets and run with all the flair of operating instructions. Liberals, beret owners from way back, think Apple's designs are the ginchiest.
- The Artists vs. Sausage Makers Theory: Not to say that a good Boerewors is not an art in itself, but the theory here is that liberals are more interested in all things artistic, and more likely to be employed at things that require artistic talent (and if you have a theory about why that should be, write your own post). Conservatives are more likely to be plodding through the numbers and writing memos about the supplies in the company bathroom. So liberals buy Macs because of the variety and power of media software available for the system.
- The Shallow Value vs Deep Value Theory: A variant on the first theory (conservatives are skinflints), this one says that conservatives buy whatever's cheapest without taking into account the real value this represents. Liberals study the big picture and decide the Mac represents a better overall value, even if the initial price tag causes a moment of sticker shock.
Why bring this up now? Well, with Window Vista getting reviews like this
Compared with Mac OS X 10.4, Windows Vista feels clunky and not very intuitive, almost as though it's still based on DOS (or at least the internal logic that made up DOS).
and the iPhone on its way to convert the portable world, the percentages in this game may be about to change. And that brings me to my own secret theory. I call it... buying a Mac makes you liberal.