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Report: Apple Users Spend More for Music than PC Owners
December 19, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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If the Mac vs. PC crowd didn't have enough fodder to throw at each other, the stakes have just been raised. The NPD Group, a Long Island based research firm with a mixed record when it comes to P2P analysis, has released a new study which unsurprisingly confirms that Apple users spend considerably more for digital music than PC users.

In the third quarter of 2007, the NPD Group found that half of all Mac users had purchased music online from retailers such as iTunes. Comparatively, a stunningly small percentage - 16% - of PC users had purchased music online. Additionally, the NPD group found that Mac users also purchased those funny discs called "music CDs" more often than PC users, but not that much more. The NPD Group found that approximately 32% of Mac users bought music CDs, compared to 28% of PC users.

It's been long known that the Mac/iPod/iTunes trinity has worked very well together to help Apple Computer once again become a premier electronics manufacturer. How did Mac users become fanatics of iTunes? Out of necessity.

Before file-sharing went mainstream, virtually all trading occurred via PC. It's conceivable that some Mac file-sharing occurred prior to Napster, however such activity occurred mostly on IRC and Usenet - a domain of the PC. Other than taunt Apple users, Napster did little to introduce the Mac crowd to file-sharing. It's largely considered that the Mac community permanently missed out on the P2P revolution when Shawn Fanning's PC only creation arrived. During Napster's steamroll into households across the world, millions were trading MP3s online, and not one of them was a Mac user.

Things began to slowly change for the Mac crowd with the arrival of community based file-sharing. Open Nap, an open source, reverse engineered fork of the original Napster, saw the introduction of several Mac clients. However Open Nap's brief reign as a popular and mainstream effort began to wane soon after Napster's demise. As a result, many eager Mac users once again found themselves in a deterred situation.

The arrival of FastTrack did little to alleviate the problem. Kazaa's parent company, Sharman Networks, worked feverishly to develop a Mac version of their client, however this project never saw the light of day. Mac users were able to access the FastTrack network via the Poisoned client (and several others), however the relative obscurity of these applications coupled with a culture of isolation from the P2P crowd did little to help promote Mac file-sharing. As a result, Mac users were largely left out FastTrack's self proclaimed revolution. The repercussions of which would serve to help foster the rise of iTunes.

When LimeWire and BitTorrent finally arrived with open arms, it was already too late to embrace the Mac community. Although LimeWire was probably one of the first mainstream and popular P2P applications to support the Mac, most members of this community had become disenfranchised enough to see iTunes as a legitimate source of music.

That's not to say that LimeWire and BitTorrent haven't become the P2P resources of choice for the Mac community. However because the PC crowd has been exposed to the technology for a much longer period and witnessed the P2P revolution first hand, it became ingrained into the culture - perhaps permanently. Mac users were typically stuck with middling clients with no official support, and coupled with the commonality that Mac users shy away from complex computing, the simplistic iTunes/iPod/Mac trinity became a success.

So there you have it. The NPD Group's latest finding really doesn't break any new ground, but it helps solidify the very large cultural rift between Mac and PC users. PC users enjoy P2P for a reason, and Mac users enjoy iTunes for an equally valid reason. The path that has taken each to their destinies was laid out a long time ago with the arrival of Napster, leaving us to wonder how different things would be if Shawn Fanning had co-developed a Mac version.


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File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Studies/Research

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