Are Top C++ Developers Migrating to Mac?

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Mac Share Among CPPCON Speakers


It is well-known that market share of Macs out there is around 6-7% (see, for example, [Clover]); if we take into account only laptops, it will be more like 10% [Tseng].

On the other hand, Mac laptops are extremely visible, and quite a few times, I was observing that:

  • in public places such as airports, share of Mac laptops is indeed below 10%
  • on the other hand, in meeting rooms – share of Macs around me is much closer to 50% (sic!).


Of course, I am very-well aware of dangers of such observations being outright misleading (“selective memory” bias etc.), so I was sceptical of my own observation skills. It was only during a CPPCON17 that I realized that there exists a way to perform an objective measurement of this kind of stats:

As Mac laptops are indeed very visible, we can easily review all conference videos on YouTube, and calculate a share of Macs used by speakers

Indeed, the difference between Macs and non-Macs on videos is (most of the time) fairly obvious:

non-Mac Mac

Of course, it doesn’t indicate which operating system they’re using, but hardware can be identified rather reliably.


Recently, we spent a few hours doing it for last 3 years of CPPCON – and got the following results:

SPEAKERS USING: Macs non-Macs Unknown Total1 % of Macs1
CPPCON2015 24 54 4 78 31%
CPPCON2016 33 62 5 95 35%
CPPCON2017 49 64 11 1132 43%

1 excluding ‘Unknown’
2 at the time of our analysis, there were fewer videos published on YouTube than now, but we don’t expect additional data to skew the stats



I know that any conclusions and speculations in this regard are extremely risky (I will be beaten hard both by Mac fans and Windows fans, not to mention Linux fans just for a good measure); still, IMO from the (semi-scientific) results above we can make the following observations:

  • share of Macs in use by top C++ developers3 during their presentations on CPPCON, is much higher (like 6x higher) than average market share of Macs
    • Once again – it is ONLY about hardware, with no indication of the OS they’re using.
    • One may speculate that it might indicate that as soon as C++ developer reaches the point when Mac price is no longer too significant, s/he’s more likely to use Mac over non-Mac box. In other words – it might indicate that C++ developers tend to prefer non-Macs for benefits/price ratio, but tend to switch to Macs when price is no longer that much of a concern.4
  • share of Macs in use by top C++ developers, has indications of growth over time
    • In other words, there are some preliminary indications that top C++ developers tend to migrate to Mac hardware over time. This goes in contrast with overall Mac share reportedly shrinking (from ~7% to ~6% over last few years),
I am done for the day. Let the flame begin! <wink />

3 I think we can say that “those who speak on CPPCON” is a rather representative sample of “those we can name ‘top C++ developers'”
4 Yes, I know that I will be pummeled particularly hard for saying this


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    • "No Bugs" Hare says

      Mac laptop with Dual Boot :-). Linux – only in VMs (which is ok, as Linux is mostly server-side).

      EDIT: and several older Thinkpads (one even with Linux host)…

  1. says

    I use a Mac because I can triple boot it with Linux and Windows in addition to OS X. My projects need to run on all three platforms (a 2D graphics API for standardisation). I may be the case that top developers aim for a broader spread of platforms. It has become easier over the past couple of years to triple boot too as drive capacities have increased.

    • "No Bugs" Hare says

      > I may be the case that top developers aim for a broader spread of platforms.

      That’s one possible explanation (and IMO rather plausible one at that); note that in OP I was very careful and said that “Of course, it doesn’t indicate which operating system they’re using” :-).

      Personally, I just happen to like hardware of Mac laptops better than any of the PC laptops (previously I preferred Thinkpads but since they were acquired by Lenovo they started a journey downhill 🙁 – at least from my experience).

  2. Garry says

    «I think we can say that “those who speak on CPPCON” is a rather representative sample of “those we can name ‘top C++ developers’”»

    Wrong, you can only see those who are at ease to communicate or are “starified”, which can be the “top influencers” because human is just a bunch of primates giving impressions….

    But NO you don’t see often the “top programmers” (those who actually program) doing “show off” to improve their “CV value” and advance in their career with “sociological weapons”…

    I’m not saying there AREN’T any good programmer there, I mean there’s a HUGE selection bias which doesn’t use “C++ knowledge/smartness” or whatever “practical” skills, but more “charisma” and communication skills. And IMHO, those are strongly correlated with “showing off” and having a “mac”…

    • "No Bugs" Hare says

      It is all about the way how we judge who’s “top”. However, as there is no such thing as an objective metric of being “top”, we have to resort to some indirect metrics such as “recognition by programming community” (it is certainly more objective than any single-guy perception), and in this regard those-who-speak-on-CPPCON, are “recognized as being top”. In absence of the objective metrics of “really being top” – this one is probably the best we can possibly do 🙂 .

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