NPD: Mac users significantly more likely to pay for music than Windows PC owners [updated]

NPD Group revealed today that consumers who own Apple Mac computers are much more likely than PC users to pay to download music. According to NPD’s quarterly Digital Music Monitor, in the third quarter of 2007 half of all Mac users had paid to download music tracks from sites like iTunes, but just 16 percent of PC owners had done so. And while Mac users were more likely to pay to download digital music than their PC-using counterparts, they were also more likely to purchase CDs.

“There’s still a cultural divide between Apple consumers and the rest of the computing world, and that’s especially apparent when it comes to the way they interact with music,” according to Russ Crupnick, vice president and entertainment industry analyst, The NPD Group, in the press release. “Mac users are not only more active in digital music, they are also more likely to buy CDs, which helps debunk the myth that digital music consumers stop buying music in CD format.”

According to NPD’s consumer panel data, unit-volume sales share for Apple computers increased from nearly 6 percent in 2006 to almost 9 percent this year (January through October). “Apple’s growing share in the personal computing environment — and continued success with iPod sales — is a potential harbinger for the continued growth of digital music,” Crupnick said.

Overall, more than 32 percent of Mac users report purchasing CDs in the third quarter of 2007, compared to just 28 percent of PC users. In addition to purchasing CDs and downloading music, Mac users are also more likely to listen to music and watch videos on their MP3-players and computers. While 34 percent of Mac users had tranferred music to their MP3 players, just 16 percent of PC users had done the same. Mac users are also much more likely to listen to music files on their computers (56 percent) than are PC users (31 percent).

“While the market for digital music is growing, it’s growing slower than many would like it to — CD sales are still declining and digital music has not replaced those lost sales,” Crupnick said in the press release. “The more consumers become comfortable paying for digital music, the more chance they will evangelize to others. And at this point in the game, it’s the growing base of Apple consumers that are the industry’s low-hanging fruit when it comes to converting from physical to digital music.”

NPD’s objective of the quarterly Digital Music Monitor is to measure music acquisition activities for key consumer segments, as well as other technology and entertainment activities that could influence music acquisition trends. Data is weighted and projected to be representative of the U.S. Internet Population age 13 and older.

Source The NPD Group

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “MacVicta” for the heads up.]

Which makes those Windows-only online music outfits — those still in business, that is — seem even stupider for ignoring customers who have long been known to be better educated and to make more money than Windows PC sufferers, many of whom, let’s face it, buy their computers from places like Wal-Mart, Dell, and the Home Shopping Network based solely on sticker price. That research once again shows that cheap people are less likely to pay to download music is hardly surprising.

Apple has destroyed the music business… We know that Apple has destroyed the music business – in terms of pricing – and if we don’t take control, they’ll do the same thing on the video side.Jeff Zucker, President and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal, October 29, 2007

[UPDATE: 5:21pm EDT: Added Zucker quote.]


  1. MDN,
    Thank you for repeating the holier than thou attitude that makes PC users hate us. “Beleaguered”, ” Better Educated”, “Better Income”, “Ignorance”, “Stupidity”, “WE”RE GETTING EVEN FOR THE BAD YEARS”, blah, blah, blah.

    Yet, if we’re massed to send mail, 80% of it is undecipherable and can’t be printed in most papers.

    If Apple is as good as we believe it is, we should be better than the snobbery and gloating that has come to identify us.

  2. Sounds right to me. I know a few true software pirates, and they ALL use windows. Period.

    Consider how all recent versions of windows have had copy protection, WGA and the like, but Apple hasn’t deemed it necessary to resort to that for OS X. I’m not saying that people don’t pirate it, it’s just not to nearly the degree that windows is.

    It may be that the windows users pirating are destitute ten year olds. It may also be that windows users feel like exploited, resentful, vengeful micro-serfs. Either way, you be the judge.

  3. Mac Users are generally more into music because many artists use a mac to make music, so of course more of them pay for music. If anything, this just strengthens the stereotype that Macs are only good for “creative” work and that they’re not a “real” computer.

    Not saying this is so, but things like this serve to strengthen this view.

  4. This report proves that MAC users are suckers. So besides overpaying for proprietary toys they blindly waste their money on I-Tunes content to stay locked into I-Tunes and I-PODs. Here’s what I do: I subscribe to Napster which supports my Dell Ditty and MANY OTHER MP3 PLAYERS, NOT JUST ONE. The entire library is available to me for a low monthly fee and I couldn’t be happier. They even use Microsoft’s brilliant .WMA format. It’s awesome! Think different, Apple lemmings.

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  5. And as usual, most commenters don’t read – or understand – the article – and the usual accusations and FUD is coming in from the PC fanatics – but again – when – IF – you read the article – AND understand it – then you understand what makes PC users more apt to steal – or spew their FUD.

    For example: ” Data is weighted and projected to be representative of the U.S. Internet Population age 13 and older.”

    What do you FUD’rs think that really MEANS?


  6. Reality Check, your comment is interesting to me. I haven’t got the impression that Mac users are older than Windows users at all; in fact, I believe the opposite is quite true. At the University that I attend, nearly half the laptops that I observe in lecture theaters have a glowing Apple logo on the lid. Granted, this is merely a personal, qualitative observation, but I do think that it speaks to the growing popularity of Macs in younger people. It is certainly higher than the overall percentage of Mac users in society.

    Most younger people that I know fall into one of two categories. They either a) have a Mac already, or b) want a Mac as their next computer. I believe this is because the younger generations (University age today, and younger) are much more in touch with the computer industry than even those 10 years older than us. A lot of people in this group know what they want in a computer, and this allows them to make more informed decisions than the 30+ demographic.

    Conversely, most of the older people that I know do not make a conscious decision when purchasing a computer. They believe that computers are merely appliances, like cars, and that each and every computer, be they PCs or Macs, can accomplish the same goals. They also believe that PCs are cheaper, something that most younger people I know do not believe, because it is not true any longer.

    Again, computer knowledge equals Apple customers. Younger people have more computer knowledge. Therefore, more younger Apple customers. And, as a result of this data, apparently more music customers as well.


  7. “80% of it is undecipherable and can’t be printed in most papers.”

    I’ve sent tons of feedback to writers about Mac stories after reading inaccuracies and every word could be published. It’s all in the way you say it. Stop blaming MDN for this sort of behavior and stop blaming them for repeeating stories that are written by other people, such as this one.

    Notice it says NPD, not MDN.

  8. The reason is not simply because of wealth. It is because Mac users are (or become) more technically sophisticated, in terms of percentage of users. Obviously, there are technically sophisticated PC users out there, but most Mac users have made an informed choice to use a Mac, instead of following the Windows herd. And novice computer users who decide to buy a Mac tend to become more knowledgeable about computer technology because Mac OS X and its bundled apps are empowering and less likely to develop problems caused by user actions. There is less “newbie” fear (including the fear of malware and fear of causing problems by installing new software).

    One key aspect is iTunes. I’ll bet the “paid download of music” percentage on the Windows side would increase if iTunes was pre-installed on all Windows PCs sold. Because of iTunes, Macs users have immediate no-hassles access to the tool for buying media online. Mac users also buy iPods, and iTunes makes it simple to upload digital content to those media players.

    This report does not say Windows users are more likely to pirate digital music. It says more Mac users have paid for digital music, which probably means a high percentage of Windows users have not download digital music, period.

  9. I’m going to go back in history on this one. Back in 1996 I switched over to Mac from the Windows 95 horror. One of the reasons at the time, although I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, was that all Macs since day one had integrated sound systems built in. I can remember trying to retrofit my PC with a sound card, etc. It was NOT a pleasant experience to actually get it to run.

    Ever since 1996, my expectations and experience with a Mac has ALWAYS include music… it just comes so naturally. Every time I see a home PC setup, it gives me the feeling that the music component was an ‘add-on’. I use quotes here because I know that PC’s today have gotten much better than they used to be. Perhaps the mental ‘legacy’ still holds some sway here.

  10. PC users just emulate the dear leader, William H Gates. He after all stole DOS to start off with, stole Internet Exploder from Spyglass, stole code from just about anyone stupid enough to deal with Microsoft (except for big companies with shed loads of lawyers). Microsoft is the company that has paid out of $10 billion to compensate companies that they ripped off, and you can be fairly sure that they get away with it scot free at least 90% of the time, often they just drive ‘partner’ companies in to (near) bankruptcy simply by overwhelming them with lawyering.

  11. Part of the “cultural divide” may be that Windows users are accustomed to a vendor landscape defined by continual price wars, which has resulted in dirt-cheap hardware (and dirt-cheap quality in most cases).

    The result is a Windows culture where the customers have come to expect products that are “cheap” in the sense of both “costing nothing or next to nothing” and “of throwaway quality.” As I see it, that mentality is now getting applied to entertainment content (and the content creators have often reinforced the throwaway mentality by churning out large quantities of re-tread and lowest-common-denominator content).

    Mac users, on the other hand, are more accustomed to products that take a little bit of extra work to afford and that, being well-crafted, are treasured once purchased. The extension to buying more content (probably more carefully-selected content) seems obvious.

    If this theory holds true, I think there are interesting implications for economics and market dynamics. (Would it be true to say in general that commodified markets tend to drive toward lowest bearable quality, and ultimately create a dehumanizing culture among their consumers that sucks value out of the market?)

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