Mac vs. PC is the Coke vs. Pepsi of the tech world. Everyone has an opinion on which type of machine is best, and at some point, most business owners and entrepreneurs must make the choice for themselves and for their teams. We asked real business owners how they made the choice between the two most common operating systems. Check out how they responded.
Mac loyalists never miss a chance to proclaim their devotion to Apple, so it was unsurprising that dozens of business owners answered our call for a final say on the Mac vs. PC business debate. While there were many responses, they only gave a handful of reasons for creating a Mac workplace. Interestingly, there was also consistency across the type of businesses the Mac respondents were in.
A disproportionately large percentage of those on Team Mac reported working in marketing and corporate coaching. A smaller but still noticeable number of respondents reported working in design and as independent freelancers (mostly in content production, performance, media and motivational speaking). Of course, there were also Mac fans in other fields, but these were the most commonly cited areas of employment by far.
Here are the top reasons Team Mac members gave for their loyalty to Apple's line of products.
Ease of use and reliability
Many Mac users cited ease of use as their primary reason for choosing Mac over PC. Respondents generally felt that Macs were useful right out of the box, less likely to get viruses and required lower maintenance than their PC counterparts. People described the user interface as friendly and intuitive, and they especially liked that they didn't need to manage additional antivirus software.
Users who came to Mac later in life cited previous problems with PC reliability as the impetus for their switch. Alex Reichmann, the CEO of iTestCash, an online retailer that sells counterfeit prevention technology to retailers, recently switched from PC to Mac.
"I made the choice because I have found many times I'd have random issues with Windows laptops over the course of owning them, and I've experienced repeatedly the stability that comes with Macs," said Reichmann. "I believe they are simply reliable, which can really make a difference when I want to focus on my work."
Though he's in a vastly different field, Eric Dobell, a mentalist and the co-star of Impossibilities, a comedy magic and mind-reading show, has a similar point of view to Reichmann's. "I've had far less issues with Macs than I have with PCs. It also came with all the programs I needed already on the computer, like iMovie, which has been really important in building my small business."
Business users in tech-related fields and people who described themselves as not tech savvy both consistently described Macs as easy to use and reliable.
A lot of design pros vouched for Mac products, which isn't a big surprise, and many of them mentioned learning design skills on Macs first.
"I find that Macs are much better for design work, photography and creating websites, which we are all about," said Anna McNaught, the CEO, founder and graphic designer for The Liked Photo, a photography and Instagram marketing company. She also mentioned the familiarity aspect of using Macs for design work. "I grew up using Mac computers and feel as though they help speed up my business."
Other design pros said they had worked on Macs and PCs in equal measure, and they still tended to favor Mac.
"I've worked extensively with both Macs and PCs. Hands down, I'd choose a Mac every day of the week," said Kimberley Matthews, the chief creative officer and co-founder of online jewelry retailer 7 Charming Sisters. "I own a business in a creative space. It's nearly a requirement that we use Macs. The creative tools on a Mac are second to none. I couldn't do half my work on a PC."
There have been moves in recent years to make some PC models more appealing to design pros, but thus far, public opinion still seems to be that Macs are superior for designing, rendering, editing and myriad other creative tasks.
Company image and overall look
Entrepreneurs who work in marketing and retail were the only respondents to cite company image and overall look as a reason for adopting Macs. While it wasn't the only thing these entrepreneurs liked about their laptops, it factored into their decision-making process. Zondra Wilson, the entrepreneur behind Blu Skin Care, was one such respondent. Wilson cited ease of use and security against viruses, as well as image, as her motivating factors.
"We chose a Mac, hands down," she said, "the reason being that we are a small online retail company and the Macintosh is just a better fit for our brand."
Wilson wasn't alone in her belief that branding matters, even when it comes to business tech. April Wier said that even though she still uses a desktop PC in the office, she uses a Mac laptop for her client-facing work as the director of web design and marketing company Sugar Five Design. She noted that before she switched to a Mac, her clients had concerns about her machine.
"What surprised me was the definite preference my high-end clients showed [for Mac]," said Wier. "I was used to questions about what kind of machine I used whenever I pulled out my [PC] laptop. Nobody questions a Mac. It just checks the credibility box automatically." She went on to say that she liked the experience of using a Mac, and her clients liked it, so it was a win-win decision for her.
While businesspeople have long thought about the image their cars, watches and office spaces project to their clients, it may be that we've entered an era where (in certain industries) operating systems should be added to the list.
One of the most frequent complaints Mac-dedicated business owners had about PCs was the lack of product longevity. These entrepreneurs were quick to point out that while Macs are more expensive, the amortized cost over time makes them a fiscally responsible choice.
Nick Leffler, the owner of digital marketing agency Exprance, said it best: "Mac is more dependable, and they last twice as long as a PC. I can accomplish the same thing on either computer, but I need bang for my buck and dependability; Macs have both. My old PCs had a maximum lifespan of three years, and I couldn't give them away. My last Mac lasted five years, and I was able to resell it for about one-third the cost I originally paid for it."
While the product longevity debate between Macs and PCs has been raging for years and will probably continue for many more, the opinion that Macs last longer on average was pervasive among Team Mac entrepreneurs we spoke with. Dan Salganik, the co-founder of digital marketing company VisualFizz, said lifespan factored into his decision to go with Mac products as well.
"We are happy with the choice we made, because we used to use PCs and at many times had to replace them every two to three years," he said. "Many Macs can run for at least twice that long."
With all the bonuses Team Mac pointed out, it may be hard for some Mac lovers to understand why anyone would opt for a PC, but the responses we received from PC business owners were also numerous and passionate. Once again, there were certain consistencies in the responses to our questions, and there was a definite career pattern among the respondents.
Members of Team PC overwhelmingly reported working in service-oriented businesses (plumbing, cleaning, retail, lawn care), finance, manufacturing, IT and other STEM fields. There were a few designers in the mix on Team PC, but they were few and far between compared to the most represented industries. Here's why Team PC is happy with their choice.
Familiarity and business-focused design
As iconic as they are, Apple computers only account for 7.3 percent of U.S. market share (as of the third quarter of 2017), while PCs (and, to a much lesser extent, Chromebooks) account for the remaining 92.7 percent. Because of this, more people are familiar with PC than Mac, and entrepreneurs we spoke with who were in businesses that focused on customer service seemed to overwhelmingly favor PCs, partially because of the familiarity factor.
Jason Cummins, the busy owner of All Hours Air, a 24-hour heating and cooling installation service in Nevada, said the choice was easy for him. "I have been using Windows for over 20 years already, and it would be weird for me to use a MacBook for the first time." He also mentioned the ease of networking PCs. "MacBooks are hard to connect to a private/shared network, unlike Windows computers."
Cummins was not the only business owner to point out that PCs are the standard in business settings. Richard Roszko, a producer at TalcMedia Productions, said his company primarily uses PCs as well. "Most businesses use PCs and MS Office." He explained that his desire for compatibility and superior hardware led to his decision. "[It's] best to be most compatible with the most used business workstations, and that's PCs […] all of the new workstation/laptop offerings from Apple are several generations behind in processors, SSD size, and have a pronounced lack of RAM. Apple is for consumer end users (form over substance), while PCs are for business end users."
Functionality and compatibility
Many PC users who responded to our questions worked in data, finance and programming fields, and most of them expressed their preference for PCs in terms of functionality.
Ian McClarty, the president of PhoenixNAP Global IT Services, said his entire company uses PCs for purely functional reasons. "I have been in the IT industry for more than 10 years, and as the years have progressed, we have noticed that PC is better than Mac in terms of programming … A MacBook can be used for programming, but it is not as effective as Windows computers. You still have to install third-party applications to use a MacBook for this job."
Paul Koger, the New York City-based day trader behind Foxy Trades, said the choice came down to compatibility for him as well. "Some pieces of the software we use in our company do not comply with a Mac's operating system. I run a small proprietary trading firm, and proper infrastructure in terms of both soft- and hardware is vital to stay on top of the game." But he also added, "I use Macs at home, but at the office, PC is currently the only choice we really have."
Many professionals also cited integration with legacy software and the ability to run and build proprietary solutions as a reason for choosing PC over Mac. Mark Chambers, from the U.K.-based company English Blinds, said this was a key factor in his decision. "As both a manufacturer and online retailer, we are reliant on our PC and software systems, so the right choice was critical. For our business, the PC was the right choice. It has proved to be extremely reliable, and the continuity has enabled us to develop and integrate bespoke systems over time."
Price and longevity
For many business owners, price is the bottom line, and that was certainly the case for a lot of entrepreneurs on Team PC. Ian Wright, the U.K. founder of payment processing comparison service Merchant Machine, chose PC machines for budgetary reasons. He said his team was "PC all the way, since Macs don't offer great value. They look nice and work well, but cost two to three times as much as a decent PC." This sentiment was restated by many business owners, across all industries, on Team PC.
Brad M. Shaw, the man behind Dallas Website Design, noted familiarity and ease of use when asked about his choice of PC over Mac, but the first thing he mentioned in his reply was price. "At the office, we all use PCs. For one, it is definitely much cheaper than a Mac. Maintenance for a Mac desktop is too expensive."
He also referenced the availability of replacement parts and longevity. "In the event that something might happen to a Mac, it can be hard to look for parts compared to a PC … Personally, I am happy with a PC, and I think all my employees are happy as well."
It's interesting to note that Shaw was not the only business owner on Team PC who mentioned availability of parts and the freedom to fix machines as a benefit to choosing PC. In fact, many PC business owners felt that PCs have better longevity than Macs, specifically because parts can easily be swapped.
A third team emerged from the woodwork early in the interview process, and we're calling it Team Hybrid. Considering the recent proliferation of BYOD policies and low-cost mobile device management for SMBs, it's not too surprising that many business owners we talked to had blended Mac/PC offices.
Interestingly, unlike the brand-loyal teams, there did not seem to be any pattern in terms of industry type in Team Hybrid, but these flexible respondents did, in general, seem to be entrepreneurs with larger companies and more employees than respondents in either our Mac or PC group. The other commonality in this group was the desire for employees to be able to start working as quickly as possible and to feel comfortable and happy about the type of machine they were using.
Igor Sereda, the founder and CEO of international software development company ALM Works, described his choice humorously: "As an equal-opportunity employer, we don't discriminate based on employee platform choice." He went on to say, "When a new employee starts out, we need them to be productive as quickly as possible. That does not leave room for learning a new operating system. All tasks we work on can be done either on a Mac or on a PC, so anything goes. Even Linux."
Ben Landers, the president and CEO of analytics and digital marketing company Blue Corona, said that about 85 percent of his 60 employees use PC and approximately 15 percent use Mac. "Our design and media team is exclusively using Macs, while our analytics team prefers PCs."
Many Team Hybrid entrepreneurs echoed the Mac/PC division Landers described.
"As a SaaS company, we have a big mix of people, from customer support to developers to graphic designers," said David Batchelor, the president and co-founder of DialMyCalls. "So, for us, our best route was to let everyone work on whatever machine they were comfortable with. Most everyone uses a PC; however, designers always seem to request a Mac. For any company, productivity is the ultimate goal, and learning a new machine can slow a good graphic designer down to a halt. Purchasing a computer of their choice seems well worth it."