The Great Debate: Mac vs. PC from a Digital Marketing Perspective

The Mac vs. PC debate is one that I have frequently been confronted with: in school, in the workplace, and even in regards to business-specific operations like marketing, management, and design. Among the factors considered in these debates are ease of use, functionality, compatibility, price, product longevity, and overall look and feel. Though we could go back and forth forever about who beats out whom in each of these categories, in this piece I will be taking a particular look into how Apple’s Mac products compare to PC (Windows) products generally and in the world of digital marketing.

Overall Benefits

Affordability:

WINNER: PC This point cannot be overlooked, as it is probably the strongest advantage that PC products have over Macs. The contrast in affordability between the two products is stark: in 2019, the cheapest laptop/computer offered by Apple is $1,099. Ouch. Comparably, PCs have a drastic range in prices because their products will offer lower-end specs for price-conscious shoppers; due to this fact, some PC products will be half the price of the cheapest Mac. Apple’s strategy, on the other hand, has been to build and sell computers with high-end specs that are designed to last a long time.  Apple also sells their products at a premium, which I believe contributes to their desirability.

Ease of Use & Functionality:

WINNER: Mac Generally speaking, Mac products are notoriously beginner-friendly. There is something about the Mac OS X system that feels fluid and intuitive. Navigating the system is often reported to be more logical than doing so with PC products.

Reliability and Security:

WINNER: Mac PC products are typically more prone to viruses and malware than Mac products. Though Mac products are not invulnerable to hacking and viruses, there are more PC products out in the world than there are Macs; thus, there are fewer malware written to target Macs. It’s true that this risk will grow as Macs gain popularity, but the integrated defense systems on Mac OS X products are stronger and more multilayered than those on Windows. Similarly, the lifetimes of Macs are typically longer than those of PCs (I’ve had my MacBook for over 5 years now and it still runs and serves my needs close to flawlessly).

Street Cred:

WINNER: Mac I hate to admit that credibility is a factor when it comes to which laptop you roll up to a meeting with, but it is. The idea might seem totally shallow and a little ridiculous, but in the world of marketing, image matters. The sleekness of Mac products make them more aesthetically impressive than their counterparts.

Variety of Options:

WINNER: PC To build off of the affordability argument, there truly are an impressive amount of options for PC shoppers, which can be narrowed by price, size, and capability preferences (to name a few). The number of options offered by Apple are a small fraction of those on the PC market – in a much tighter price range, I might add.

Marketing Features:

Design & Editing Capabilities:

WINNER: Mac Design is an incredibly pertinent component of digital marketing, so from a design perspective, Macs have the upper hand over PCs. Firstly, “Apple has carved out a reputation for being the ‘alternative’ choice for those that see themselves as an individual, which is what art is all about” (Computer Weekly). Fifth Tribe’s lead designer, Schuyler Mobley, added to this point and told me, “Macs are the standard in the practice of design. I was taught this and they’re preferred for my profession. It’s all I know for the most part.” Secondly, when the high-quality Mac applications – like Apple Motion and Final Cut Pro – are paired with Adobe applications, creative and design potentials are nearly limitless; Schuyler agreed with this point and shared that, “Productivity and software tools work well on Macs. The design experience is fluid and easy.”

Schuyler Mobley, Fifth Tribe’s Lead Graphic Designer.

Device Integration:

WINNER: Mac The cross-product integration of Mac products creates a quick and easy workflow across all Apple devices. Being able to Airdrop images or copy on my laptop to my coworkers or AirPlay to large screens for presentations is a one-step process.

Image/File Transfer & Management:

WINNER: Mac This feature is one that I take advantage of every single day as a marketer. The ability to download/save images and files with just a click, drag, and drop on Macs is a game changer, especially if you are working with multiple files at once. It might not seem like a huge upgrade from the right-click functions on PCs, but it truly is a time saver and facilitates much smoother file management.

Podcasting:

WINNER: Mac Amongst podcasters and those who do audio recording, Macs are the more popular option in marketing circles. Macs are programmed with an internal microphone and preinstalled GarageBand. PCs require a software download, among which Audacity is the most popular. According to Fifth Tribe CEO Khuram Zaman, who hosts Fifth Tribe’s Campfire: The Innovation and Impact Podcast, GarageBand is typically easier to use and learn than Audacity. Check out this piece to learn which is the Best Laptop for Podcasting

SEO Software:

TIE: Mac & PC If we were discussing the difference between SEO and marketing tools a few years ago, PC products would’ve had the upper hand, as there were a few niche SEO and marketing software products that were specifically designed for Windows. This was especially the case for installable programs, as opposed to cloud-based software. Now, the best tools are paid tools (such as SEMrush, Moz Pro, and Serpstat) and they are available for both Windows and Mac OS X. Compare the highest rated SEO software here. In regards to marketing software, the differences between Mac and PC products are indistinguishable.

Software Compatibility:

WINNER: Mac One major critique of Mac products that used to be frequently heard was that they weren’t compatible with Windows’ software, like Microsoft Office. In the past, this fact could pose some challenges to marketing capabilities. However, now there are very few instances in which users will be unable to open and download PC files or will not be able to find a Mac-equivalent to Windows software. This is a huge win for Mac, as it means that users will not be limited in correspondence or collaboration with PC users.

Web Development:

TIE: Mac & PC This category is the second one that revealed no preference between PCs and Macs – regardless of who I talked to or which sources I read. Since Apple upgraded their software compatibility, all tools and programs that are typically used for web development (including Linux) are supported on both Macs and PCs. Fifth Tribe’s Front-End Developer, Stuart Lindstrom, offered his input and said that there’s no reason for him to prefer one product over the other for web development because the capabilities are equivalent on both systems.

Stuart Lindstrom, Fifth Tribe’s Front-End Developer.

The Winner for Digital Marketing: Macs  

If you are considering which products to purchase for your company, it can be easy to stop the conversation at: “Our organization cannot afford Macs.” However, I encourage you to consider what you are paying for when deploying Macs. Check out this piece by Nick Thompson on Jamf on Total Cost of Ownership: Mac vs. PC in The Enterprise. He says, “Any organization [who is] serious about managing and securing Windows will need to add additional software and tools to the cost of their cheap PC, as opposed to having those features built into the operating system with Mac.”

Throughout my conversations with my Fifth Tribe team and the research that I’ve conducted, I’ve really come to understand how subjective the PC vs. Mac debate is. Personal preferences truly depend on your budget and what you intend to use your product for. However, for marketing specifically, I think that Macs are the best products on the market. Whether you’re creating, designing, presenting, or collaborating, the capabilities of Mac products overshadow those of PC products because of their software compatibility, file management system, device integration, and artist-friendly nature. The functionality, security, lifespan, and image of Apple products are just a plus. In the few areas where PCs overshadow Mac products, the victory is marginal.

Payton Lawton

Payton's roles and responsibilities for Fifth Tribe are intersectional: she works in content strategy, market analysis, content marketing, and copywriting. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she received her degree in English and Government and developed her competencies in writing, editing, analysis, and problem solving. Her favorite parts about working at Fifth Tribe are collaborating with a diverse and creative team, having the opportunity to work in multiple different industries, serving social impact causes, and facing new challenges and developing new skills. Some of her passions and interests include: issue advocacy, public health, policy, social justice research, business development, fitness and health.