Beware your stats

Every now and then, we hear that Mac users don't matter because they account for (ridiculous number here)% of the PC market. Anyone with a slight notion of statistics and sociodemographics will know this reasoning is dangerous.

When Bang & Olufsen released their portable mp3 player, they didn't bother, as usual:

We had deliberately chosen not to develop BeoSound 2 to make it compatible with Macintosh computers because they account for such a small proportion of the total market, just 3.8%.

Guess what? Mac users tend to be rather vocal, especially when they are disappointed, so B&O ran its figures again:

the calculations we have done on the basis of all the inquiries we have received show that Macintosh users represent a larger customer segment for us than we first assumed.

And, according to B&O, Mac users are pleasing customers too:

All in all, this has been a very positive experience. We cannot say much more than that Macintosh users have good taste. So now we are hoping for a flood of communications from Mac users who are satisfied with us

Good boys, who said Apple fans are brand whores? Don't hold your breath, that Mac-friendly UFO thing will not hit the shelfs before December.

Macromedia has got some surprises along the same lines. Reporting on the progress of their public redesign and the feedback they received, MM found out that while Mac users represented 11% of all users during this first beta period, 41% of the survey respondents were Mac users. And users of Safari (accounting for an even more ridiculous number of browsers share) where quite vocal too:

Because of the beta status of Safari, we expected some issues but were surprised by the volume of comments we received.

Unless you are a company which targets world+dog, beware of any reasoning based on a dry broad base. This (ridiculous number) percentage may well account for a much bigger customer segment than you think, they also may cost less to retain and generate more revenues (loyalty). They may be vocal and biased, but isn't marketing about listening and building on feedback? And even if they still amount for a minority of your sales, they may be the leaders of opinion that influence the remaining 95+%.

[Update] I think that Microsoft has made a smart move in creating the MacBU and committing itself into a five-year plan to develop its applications for the Mac. They have regularly introduced new features on their products through the Mac platform first, benefiting from the vocal and pickier user base who in return helped them fine-tune things or redo their copy, before releasing them for the Windows masses. IE/Mac is a great outcome of this move and each time I have to use PowerPoint (a corporate necessary evil) I'm glad I can do that on Office X rather than on our buggy and ugly corporate version for Windows. The hair splitters may be a minority, but treating them as first-class citizen may bring surprisingly positive results.

On a side note, if you watch French political leaders on TV (they get a little exposure those days), they seem to use Macs for a vast majority of them. It looks like their U.S. counterparts fancy that too.

If you are a webmaster, this translates into: all browsers matter.