Apple’s Popularity at Swat Keeps Rising

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

In the computing world, it seems to be the era of the Apple: iPods are everywhere, corny Mac vs. PC ads populate television and Youtube alike, and the Windows home computer monopoly of the 90s seems to have broken at last.

At Swarthmore, too, Macs are on the rise. According to Seth Frisbie-Fulton, Client Services Coordinator, Mac usage on campus since 2000 has jumped from 15% of the student body to 50%. Mr. Frisbie-Fulton coordinates the Restech program and repairs both Macs and PCs.

When asked about the types of problems he has seen with the different operating systems, Mr. Frisbie-Fulton says that he “can safely say that PCs get all the spyware and viruses.” Restech saw about 40 “badly infected” computers before October break, all of them PCs. He adds, “Macs aren’t immune to viruses, but they are very rare and less crippling to the operating system. For this reason alone, I prefer working with Macs.”

In terms of hardware errors, there have been about 20 this semester, “split between Apple and varied PC hardware manufacturers.” Mr. Frisbie-Fulton notes that “all of these were laptop issues.”

Evelyn Strombom, ’12, is one of 25 students who brought desktops to Swarthmore this year, reasoning that she doesn’t want “to worry about it getting stolen,” and that she works best in her room anyway.

A Mac user, Samantha Griggs, ’11, says that her home computer ran Microsoft and required attention and troubleshooting. Her Mac “isn’t perfect, but it usually functions pretty well” without her help.

Ross Adair, ’12, agrees: “they have an easier interface,” he says, and adds, “and they’re sexy.”

“Macs are way better,” sums up Miriam Rich, ’11, after listing many reasons she prefers the computer, including ease of transport and visual appeal.

Swarthmore students do not only use Microsoft and Apple operating systems⎯Mi Zheng, ’11, uses Linux on her PC, and says she chose that operating system because it offered free word processing, was “very user-friendly” and was not prone to viruses. Linux users, however, are in the minority; almost all students use Apple or Windows.

Some PC users seem accustomed to defending their choice in computers, even though half of the computers on campus run Microsoft. Claire Almand, ’11, is from Ocean City, Maryland, and says that there “no one uses Macs. They’re this myth⎯everyone knows about them but no one uses them.” Claire has a PC running Microsoft XP, which she prefers to the newer Vista.

There are still many reasons that students pick PCs; the larger market share allows the brand to cater to specific, less common consumer preferences. Andrew Stromme, ’12, prefers his tablet PC to Mac laptops, which he says do not offer comparable touch screen technology.

For the Swarthmore student body as a whole, though, it seems that Macs have nowhere to go but up.

0 thoughts on “Apple’s Popularity at Swat Keeps Rising

  • October 27, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    The main reason to prefer PCs is that they are a whole lot cheaper. With Macs, you pay a premium for the sleek aesthetic design of both the hardware and the software, which is rightfully important to some people. But what you also pay for is the advertising. People are willing pay a premium to be a part of the "Mac community" of pseudo-hipsters who work on their Macbooks while they drink fair trade coffee while listening to Vampire Weekend (on iTunes of course). The success of Macs among Swarthmore students shows just how easy it is for a major corporation to sell an image to people who are ostensibly anti-consumerist, counter-cultural, and liberal.

    Here is an article on Apple's form of marketing:

  • October 28, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Well, looks like computer preferences are coming full circle. Here's some history. (Kristin, the article's author, might want to check with ITS for a fuller account.) When desktop computers first came to faculty and staff offices at Swarthmore (1980s) we were exclusively a Mac school. We deemed ourselves too small (with a much smaller IT staff than today) to cope with two operating systems, and also Apple was first on the market with personal computers. Eventually a decision was made to support both Macs and PCs (for one, much software of interest to faculty was only available or first available on PCs). While (if I recall correctly) PC usage among faculty only went up slowly, at one point almost all students were using PCs. So now that has turned around again.


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