In the Battle of Mac vs. PC, Browsing Data is Changing Everything

Browsing data has long been used in predictive analytics. It is a useful tool for guessing future shopping habits and a solid way for companies to tailor advertisements – so useful that it is big business. Data of this nature is the core of the success of some of the biggest and most talked about companies in the world, like Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB).

Traditionally, that information has traditionally been confined to geographic location, which webpages are visited, the searches completed and so on. Now, that has all changed. Consumers’ operating systems are getting into the mix. Specifically, there are companies that believe that the choice of operating system is a good predictor of buying habits – in other words, that Mac owners, which account for almost 10% of the US personal computer market, really are different from PC users.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

Orbitz Worldwide (OWW) is one such company, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company’s researchers found that members who use Apple (AAPL)’s Mac computers spend $20 to $30 more per night on hotel rooms and are 40% more likely to book four- or five-star hotels than their PC counterparts. Mac users tend to book certain hotels more often than PC users too. Moreover, Orbitz’s researchers found that even when Mac and PC users stay in the same hotel, Mac users overwhelmingly choose the more expensive, and better-appointed rooms – and they are putting that information to use.

“Orbitz executives confirmed that the company is experimenting with showing different hotel offers to Mac and PC visitors, but said the company isn’t showing the same room to different users at different prices,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “They also pointed out that users can opt to rank results by price.”

The company first confirmed member preferences in October and have since been trying to work that knowledge into its search results. “We had the intuition, and we were able to confirm it based on the data,” said Roger Liew, Orbitz Chief Technology Officer.

Chief Executive Barney Harford has made data mining a priority since joining the company in 2009. The former Expedia exec actively recruited statisticians with experience at eBay, Inc. (EBAY) and Google for Orbitz’s analytics team.

Spokesmen for Orbitz Competitors, Expedia, Inc. (EXPE),, Inc. (PCLN) and Travelocity, a unit of privately-owned Sabre Holdings Corp, said that they do not factor in operating system when suggesting hotels, writes the Wall Street Journal.