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Hey, Gramps, Can I Borrow Your Mac?

A new study shows that nearly half of Apple's users are 55 and older. What are younger buyers going for? Gateway.

Apple's commercials like to portray its users as young and hip. But a new study is offering some contrary information.

When it comes to home computers, nearly half (46%) of Apple's U.S. user base is 55 or older. That's compared with only 25.2% of home PC users who are in that age category, reports MetaFacts Inc., a national market research firm.

So, what computers are the digitally savvy youth buying? Gateway.

"Apple can claim long-time loyalists, but its future among the young technoliterati is an interesting dynamic," said Dan Ness, a principal at MetaFacts. "Gateway has the lead among the 18-24 year olds, with a higher-than-average share of U.S. home's primary PC users falling into this age group."

When it comes to mobility, however, Apple users are definitely the ones on the move.

The MetaFacts study shows that in Apple households, 52% of personal computers are notebooks. In HP households, just under one in six (16.1%) are notebook computers, while 46.1% of Dell PCs at home are notebooks. Dell, though, continues to lead in sheer numbers with just more than 24 million if its notebooks in U.S. households. That's a 46.1% share of the home notebook PC market.

Laptops are often the computer of choice for home users, according to the study entitled "2006 Home PC brand Profile". Nearly 52 million notebooks are reportedly listed as the home's primary computer. These 51.8 million laptops account for 30.2% of the primary home computers in the U.S.

The study also shows that almost half of U.S. homes have newer computer models, whether desktop or laptop, with 49.3% purchased since 2004. More than two-thirds of Apple and half of Dell and HP primary home computers are less than two and a half years old.

"A substantial number of home computers are considered new enough that it's likely to cause resistance for home consumers to replace their PCs," said Ness. "This will have implications for releases of new applications and operating systems like Microsoft Vista."

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