For much of the past dozen years or so Apple’s once flagship product, the Mac, has gained marketshare against traditional Windows PCs. Why? There are many reasons, some of which are the halo effect, others self inflicted by Microsoft.
The halo effect dates back to the iPod’s success in the early part of the century. Most iPod customers were Windows PCs users, but they fell in love with the magical musical device, saw the Apple stores filled with happy Mac users who didn’t have viruses or malware to worry about, and the stage was set for a migration that continues to this day.
Windows had become a veritable cesspool of malware, a toxic landscape of personal computing troubles that took up time and effort and caused a generation of PC users untold frustration and expense. Meanwhile, Mac users, for the most part, basked in a reputation of clean computer living. Windows users began a steady migration to the Mac.
Today, PCs remain in the doldrums; sales are flagging despite Microsoft’s attempts to pump new life into the platform with touchscreen Windows and hybrid notebook tablets (the only bright spot in the entire Windows world, and even Microsoft’s own Surface products are not selling as well as they used to). Meanwhile, the Mac sells at record levels. What’s going on?
Let’s call it a battle of reputations and the advent of another malware; this one called ransomeware.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to the victim’s data or threatens to publish or delete it until a ransom is paid. While some simple ransomware may lock the system in a way which is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, more advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion, in which it encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. In a properly implemented cryptoviral extortion attack, recovering the files without the decryption key is an intractable problem – and difficult to trace digital currencies such as Ukash and Bitcoin are used for the ransoms, making tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators difficult.
Uh oh. So far, such ransomware seems to have targeted businesses and governments which rely on older Windows PC systems more vulnerable to such attacks.
Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan that is disguised as a legitimate file that the user is tricked into downloading, or opening when it arrives as an email attachment. However, one high-profile example, the “WannaCry worm”, traveled automatically between computers without user interaction.
See the problem? Windows. See the solution? Macs.
A recent survey bodes well for Apple and not so well for Windows PC makers. What? Wait. How can that be. After all, technology magazine headlines say Microsoft has caught up to Apple and the Mac. Maybe not. Verto Analytics polled both Windows and Mac customers and came up with some interesting results.
According to the results of the Verto Smart Poll, nearly all (98% or more) current Mac owners intend to stay with Macs as their next computer. However, nearly 21% of current Windows laptop owners and 25% of current Windows desktop owners responded that they intend to switch to a Mac within the next six months. And of those current Windows owners, consumers in the upper income bracket (those with an average income of $150,000 or more) showed the highest likelihood of switching to a Mac: 20% of respondents intended to switch. Lower income groups (those making $20,000 or less annually) also report higher probability of switching to Mac: about 14% of these respondents intended to switch.
Is it any wonder the Mac continues to sell well despite computer users moving rapidly to smartphones in the post-PC era? Why?
Windows, despite the more secure environment provided by Microsoft in Windows 10 S, has the reputation of being so insecure that businesses and governments are held for ransom, and every week or so there’s a new outbreak. Meanwhile, the Mac’s reputation for security and privacy remains intact. There are plenty of technical, political, and economic reasons why the Mac basks in such glory while Windows users evacuate their technology premise. Too many insecure Windows XP machines remain in use in business and government. Politicians have failed to promote or fund upgrades in technology that might provide more security.
Regardless, Apple and the Mac benefit while Windows customers continue their steady migration away from what Microsoft hath wrought.
Windows brethren, welcome To The Mac.