Once in a while there are statistics about the usage of different operating systems on desktops – and always when these come out there is a discussion about whether Mac OS or Linux is used more often.
As if this would be important (it’s only about less than 5 percentage – together!) the remarkable thing there is that these figures are sometimes very strange, depending from your point of view. For example: I always wondered how anyone can claim that anyone uses Mac OS as a system: I was help desk for more than a year for almost 150 students, I repair a lot of computers for friends, their friends, and sometimes complete strangers (who say they know a friend who knows a friend of mine) – and I never (!) saw anyone using a Mac OS system. In Sweden I met the first real person, and later on there was another friend of a friend who had a Mac – and of course, kOoLiNuS has a Mac system. Compared two more than 10 to 15 people I know running Linux (completely or once in a while)…
When I told this a friend of mine coming form the US she wasn’t able to believe me – she said she knew quite a lot of people, and that she knew more people running a Mac than Linux.
Ok, so know it looked to me that Macs are much more spread in the USA than in Europe, or at least, in Germany. But this was just a feeling,l out of my experiences and the experiences from a friend of mine, and I prefer figures.
So I tried to get some “real” figures about the geographical spread of Linux or Mac, and found them first at last.fm: the users of this audio sorting system can add themself to groups, and these groups come along with simple member demographics. I found a Linux users group and a Mac users group, both with somewhat 2,000 users, and the demographics are clear: Linux users demographics and Mac OS users demographics.
The result is clear: while Linux users are quite spread above the world, no one outside the USA cares what a Mac is.
(And, sadly, more women are attracted by Mac OS than by Linux, but Mac OS has the advantage of the special designed hardware 🙂 ).
But since last.fm is only a special web page with a special purpose I searched for another source, and checked Google Trends. If you search for mac, linux you get the states where Mac is more searched than Linux: USA, United Kingdom, Canada. The other way around, linux, mac, shows the states where Linux is more searched: Russia, India, Germany, Poland.
Btw.: In China Linux is also much, much more important. In France it is almost equal, which is different to the last.fm result, where more Linux users where coming form France than Mac OS users.
So, the next time you read such a study, be very careful about the region where they gathered the data: US American institutions tend to look on the USA only, but interpret the results as results for the whole world – which is terrible wrong!
And, sure, every time when you talk about analysis and statistics, keep a very critical eye on the details! Even on this analysis here on this page 🙂