Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Are Macs designed for the left-handed?

I had a bit of a bizarre revelation this afternoon, which I'd like to share. I own a total of four laptop computers:
  • A Dell Inspiron 1150 running Kubuntu Hardy
  • A Philips X58 dual-booting Vista and Ubuntu Intrepid
  • An Asus Eee PC 2G Surf running the default Xandros
  • An early 2008 MacBook
Now, the Dell has two USB sockets at the back, the Eee has two on the left and one on the right, the Philips has two on the left and two on the right. So with these machines you can easily have the mouse on the left or right-hand side.

The MacBook is different. It has all the USB and other sockets on the left-hand side, so you have to plug in your mouse on the left. If you want to use a mouse on the right-hand side it effectively shortens the length of the wire. Also, the touchpad has only one button, so there's no right or left button in the same way.

So that begs the question - Are Macs designed specifically for people who are left handed?

Think about it - the ration of right-to-left handedness is about 90:10, similar to the proportion of Mac users to users of other PC's (yes, Macs are PC's!). Macs have a reputation for being used by creative people and creativity comes from the right hemisphere of the brain, which is linked to the left side of the body, meaning that creative people are more likely to be left handed. So if creative people are more likely to be left handed, it follows that they are more likely to prefer a computer designed for them.

Now, I'm right-handed, and I'm also a good example of a left-brained logical type, and while I quite like OS X (I do think it's better than Windows), I prefer Linux. Linux is more likely to appeal to the right-handed, left-brained people who like getting lost in technical details simply because you can get lost in the technical details, but also most people run it on hardware other than Macs, and like I said above, my impression is that most PC's are designed more with the right-handed in mind.

It also explains why some people absolutely rave about Macs, and plenty of others (myself included) are ambivalent about them (although I am actually writing this post on my MacBook, naturally as it's what I had to hand when I first noticed this!) and can't understand what the fuss is all about. If you were left-handed, wouldn't you prefer a computer designed specifically for you, to the point that you'd never want to go back?

It wouldn't surprise me if a survey were to find out that the majority of Mac users were left handed, and I'd be curious to know if such a survey has ever been done. Any thoughts, anyone?


tonyskyday said...

I don't get your point about the one-button mouse favoring left-handedness, but I would point out that other Mac models have different configuration (and, indeed, iMacs have their ports on the right side).

MattBD said...

I didn't know that other Mac models have their ports elsewhere, cheers for that. As for the one-button touchpad, the Ctrl button is on the left and that's used to replicate the functionality of the right mouse button, so I would say that favours the left hand. It's debatable, though.

EJI said...

I'm a left-hander and, yes, I think we southpaws are perhaps over-represented in the Mac community. But I wonder if the ergonomics of Apple computers tend to draw left-handers, or whether it's some more complicated or abstract reason. I do know that I always keep the Mighty Mouse -- which I love (360 degree scrolling) and hate (perpetually gunky scrollwheel) -- on my left side, which annoys the hell out of righties.

Mind you, I've got no statistics to back up any part of this theory, just limited anecdotal evidence.

Thanks for commenting on my Ubuntu post, by the way.

RoxAnneJ said...

I totally get your point! I am left handed and purchased a Macbook just over a month ago - still getting used to the ports on the left side but love that they are there.
And, my left handed son asked for a Macbook for his birthday. Why? Not sure but he hasn't fired up his less than a year old Dell since.

coma boy said...

Am a leftie.

I use my LH for the touchpad.

To Ctrl+CLICK either I have to awkwardly swap to RH to click, and press Ctrl with LH, OR awkwardly reach over my LH to press Ctrl with my RH.

It's tricky. I can no longer "right-click" using a Mac.

Then again, I may figure it out once I use a Mac for more than ten mins at a time...

coma boy said...
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