New study shows Macs dominate design and production firms; 82% use Mac as primary OS

“IDG World Expo and TrendWatch Graphic Arts today announced results of their Spring 2003 study of the creative markets. The research showed that business conditions continued to show slight improvement for nearly all survey respondents in the Spring 2003 survey and that “the Mac is clearly the operating system of choice for design and production firms, with 82% of all respondents naming the Mac as their primary OS. However, adoption of Mac OS X remains slow; only 17% of those polled have upgraded their systems to the new OS.” The study also noted that the Mac is not quite as popular among internet design and development firms, where only 22% use the Mac OS as their primary operating system,” MacNN reports. Full article here.


  1. I am shocked that only 82% of design and production firms are on Mac. What are the other 18% doing? Or are they really design and production firms? How prolific are they? This figure is somewhat misleading.

    The 22% of the internet design and development firms is another misleading number since it, too, stipulates “primary operating system”. If those firms have in-house hosting, then their primary OS is probably UNIX or Linux. What exactly do these numbers mean to us?

    The only number that is really disturbing (no matter what the details are) is the 17% upgrade to OS X figure. That is probably a symptom of a slow economy, though, since the cost of upgrading design software is significant to say the least.

  2. This is a breath of fresh air!!

    I am so tired of hearing the “3 – 5% of the market” speech from journalists with nothing better to do but quote each other.

    I wonder if we were to isolate the computer market into relevant categories what the true percentage of Mac usage would be? I remember that when I worked in the consumer imaging software industry (1996- 2001) we considered Apple to have up to 25% install base with scanner/digital camera users (depending on geographics).

    Perhaps journalists could look at relevant computer market categories in their stories. Instead of lumping together usage categories which have completely different purchasing trends and are therefore not relevant to each other.

    Or if we are going to make a blanket and undefined market statement of “95% of computers run Windows” then let’s figure out the true percentatge and also not exclude AS400 thin client terminals and other such business computers as well.

    Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

  3. Being gay, I’m used to that only a small percentage of the population has the same idea of what’s nice and what isn’t. As long as I have my boyfriend and my Powerbook, I don’t acctually care about how many people chairing my interests;-)

  4. I love the 82% figure, it’s music to my ears. However, the 17% OS X adoption rate reflects a number of things:
    1) The recession
    2) The s-l-o-w responsiveness of OS X relative to Sys 9.
    3) Scanner & input device support for OS X, which drug out much too long. If it wasn’t for VueScan, I’d have been stuck in OS 9.
    4) Adobe and others dragging their feet on software.
    5) Apple sticking with underpowered ProMacs too long.
    However, most all of that is history now and I think the fall and winter will see the adoption rate jump quite rapidly.

  5. We did a test for 6 months from January to June of this year as the powers that be in our firm we concerned about Quark and moved to InDesign.

    The experiment wasn’t terribly scientific – volunteers were picked and given Windows XP machines with InDesign/Photoshop/Illustrator or OS X Macs with a similar suite. The first five volunteers to each got to participate (and got brand new machines).

    Uptime and administration was seriously better on OS X. The artists on the OS X machines seemed to be happier and more productive (note that both sides volunteered so there may have been some self selection). At the end of the trial all of the OS X users wanted to stay with OS X and three of the XP users wanted to switch to OS X.

    The 6 month bottom line numbers (income per seat – cost of hw/sw/tech support for that user)

    Win XP $76,500 per seat
    OS X $93,700 per seat

    The rest of the firm was $82,100 for the 6 month period. The boss decided it was time to move in the OS X only direction. We still have OS 9 legacy machines, but all of the XP machines are gone and all new machines will be OS X.

  6. We often buy cheap Wintel computers w/o monitors to run simulations on in a big network to get the effective speed we need for lots of runs. The OS is irrelevant, in fact we usually install Linux to dual boot because it works better for multiple simultaneous simulation runs. The quality of the OS experience is irrelevant, we just want something cheap and relatively fast. I would never want Apple to compete in this market. But the purchase of these cheap Wintel machines count the same as the purchase of an Apple OS used interactively by a person for most of the workday. I am helping to inflate the overall market share of Wintel machines, but when it comes to designing and developing the simulation I do it on a Mac because they are just better (more efficient), but I only need one Mac to “drive” or control these multiple other machines. In this sense I am happy that there are computer companies out there that can produce cheap, relatively fast computers with no monitor, but they are literally just commodities like buying another stapler or hole punch.

  7. As much as I would love to see Apple have an independent survey company poll ALL computer users to see what they use and where they use it, the competition would simply claim the numbers are skewed, just as they do with the new G5 stats. Nonetheless, it would be some solid stats that I would like to see.

    According to Apple’s recent Quarterly Report, 771,000 Macs were sold in the 90 day period. I’m not sure what the percentage is, but that is 8,567 people per day thinking Mac is better.

    Anders, I agree. There are many parallels that can be drawn between being gay and being a Mac user. I am proud to be both. Perhaps there is a much greater percentage of Gay Mac users because we have already learned that “popular consensus” is NOT a criterion of truth.

  8. What’s 17 percent of 82 percent? It’s less than 18 percent. Which means more people are using non-Macs than are using Mac OS X in design work. Mac OS X is, apparently, the kiss of death for the Mac. What happens when those 82 percent of users switch to Windows and not OS X?

  9. Paul,
    This is a survey of the primary desktop OS for design firms. This survey in no way has any indication of actual number of desktops or OS penetration in design firms in general. For example, if a small design firm has 7 machines and 4 of them are Wintel boxes, then they fall into the 18% of “non-Mac” design firms since Mac is not their primary OS. Likewise, every single firm in this survey may be using OS X, but unless it is their primary OS, they fall into the 83% non-adopter group.

    Statistically speaking, this is a very flawed survey to cite if desktop penetration is what you are looking for.

  10. Just like it took years for designers to move completely to computers (and you still have 2% who are holding out), it will take a while – no one wants to risk and spend time on the process portion of a project (and NOT the project itself). Just like everyone has a project folder/filing system that works for them – might seem crazy to others but they like it that way. Same with publishers – while Quark is a doofus company, they got it right first and now it’s the standard, you have a magazine or a project to print – who is going to risk getting it all wrong by sending PDF files from Indesign and hoping the printer gets it all right. It will change but not overnight. It took literally decades from when desktop publishing came before the actual typesetter places were finally a tiny minority.

    As for Pc design firms, I would say that with very few exceptions, the print ones tend to be in-house – IT bought computers – they don’t have a choice. I would guess that less than 5% of designers specifically choose a PC and even of that number, most times, it’s just cost – they can build a white box much cheaper than $3k for a dual processor Mac – no matter how much they want one.

    Many multimedia design firms use PC’s especially for rendering – you can’t beat a white box for sheer processing power even if it’s ugly and nobody really likes it … and that 18% also counts SGI’s, Sun’s, Linux, IRIX, etc …

  11. I had to respond to NoPCZOne who said:
    >4) Adobe and others dragging their feet on software.

    What is Adobe dragging its feet on for OSX? Give them credit for where it is due. Their entire suite of products that peopl ehave used before is on X.
    come on…
    Give them a break.
    Quark, yes, but Adobe?

  12. Paul, wake up. The reason why of the 82% only 17% are on OS X is because of the longevity of the Mac platform. A Mac has a life of 5-7 years. A Wintel PC has an 18 Month life-cycle. So get off your theories, Apple’s actual Market share is between 10-15% of PC’s in actual use. With 82% of the Production market in their back pocket. I have cycled through 5 Wintel PC in the past 4 years, while I am still using the My same 1999 Mac and it is running the latest OS X beautifully. Can you same the same for your PC?

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